The Ugandan Experience Through Carol’s Eyes

Road from Gulu to Moyo
Road from Gulu to Moyo
Greetings and love to all of our praying and supporting family and friends!

It is unbelievable and wonderful and somewhat surreal sitting here in our new Uganda home with beautiful views out of the windows on either side of the desk that Nkatta, the carpenter, hand-crafted for Jacob!  (It is basically a multilevel shelf that fits into one of the corners of our bedroom.)  It has taken us since Tuesday, with the help of carpenters, electricians, and plumbers, to get this house to feel more like home, but it is starting to feel that way.

After a two week stay in Kampala in the gracious care of our dear friends, Patrick and Vickie Bukenya, we were finally able to get the bulk of our preparatory shopping done (some things have to be made from scratch, so it’s not merely a matter of going down to the store, picking something out and then taking it home…I believe Jacob gave you a good description of his comings and goings in Kampala in a previous letter.)  We left for Moyo/Aforgi located in northwestern Uganda on the South Sudan border this past Monday.  Patrick was kind enough to drive us in his vehicle, which was a great help since we had so much stuff. We also had to hire a small truck to haul the much of what was built and bought in Kampala. It takes a lot to start from scratch. I tell you, these high maintenance missionaries!!

Our trip to Moyo took 12 1/2 hours, though mileage-wise, on US roads, it would only take 4 1/2 hours.  It is a colorful ride in many ways!

We left at eight in the morning, but it took us a while just to get out of Kampala with the numerous traffic jam!  The roads from Kampala to Gulu were decent, with minor bumps in the road due to construction and resurfacing. Apart from the challenges of driving in Uganda, it was truly a beautiful journey.  I was tired but hesitated to sleep for fear that I would miss any of the scenery…lush forests with every kind of tree imaginable, rolling hills (I did not realized Uganda was so hilly), and even some baboons near Karuma Falls who definitely thought they were “king of the road!”  To say the least, the landscape was “eye candy!”

Starting at Gulu, a fairly large city, the roads changed as we continued north. They had a reddish hue…no paving, just red dirt…and rocks…and potholes…and people, and bikes and animals!  It reminded me so much of India!  I don’t imagine that any vehicle can take even a few trips on those roads before a serious overhaul is necessary. There were times that the bumps and jolts were so severe that I was sure the truck would leave parts behind. Little did I know that the worst was yet to come.  Our stop at the Nile River and waiting for the ferry was a peaceful interlude before we started our ascent to Moyo,which is situated at the top of a cluster of mountains the size of the Appalachians. Oh my! I believe paving these roads would be a nightmare for any contractor. It was more of an “off roading” experience!  Unfortunately, we started our climb up the mountain in the dark (the ferry was late in loading on the opposite side and getting to ours) so I really didn’t get a view of the scenery.

After an hour or so more driving we finally arrived at our new home where Abraham and his wife Margaret were waiting with a meal. I was fighting to hold back tears as we drove in—to see the culmination of so many years of hard work, prayer and partnering in vision and sacrificial giving was very moving!

This week has been a whirlwind of activity as the carpenters, electricians and the plumber have worked tirelessly to get things up and running.  Just now the electricians were able to switch us over to solar powered batteries; the lights are on, this computer is running—we have power!  In the battery room there is a switch which can allow for us to use either solar or generator power. These guys are geniuses!  It is now late and the carpenters,electricians, and Jacob are still at it, trying to finish up before they leave very early tomorrow morning by bus back to Kampala.

This week we have had several important meetings, the first of which was an RAU board meeting laying out the agenda for the next few months. Already, in August, we have an American team making a visit: Jacob’s good friend, Kevin Turner of SWI and some folks he is bringing along. October will be a month of hosting local church leaders for short retreats including teaching, prayer, encouragement, discussion and resources.  Ron Zeiner will be coming the last week of October to provide some excellent teaching!  In the first week of November, a 3-man team from Tennessee will also be coming through.  In the second weekend of August we are planning to host a dedication service to which we will invite local church leaders and also key community leaders to hear about our vision, to celebrate with us, and to dedicate this new facility to the glory of God! September and the first three weeks of October we look to host a number of retreat/teaching times for pastors, evangelists, and church planters. In the middle of November the guys are planning an exploratory trip in the Iterie forest in the northeastern D.R. Congo to the unreached Mubuti Pygmies in the area.

Also, several key meetings have taken place with the Chief of Police at the Moyo District Police Department. Discussions have centered around security concerns which the higher administrative offices have had in having an American presence in the area. It has been an tug of war, emotionally and spiritually speaking—faith versus fear, and wisdom/prudence versus presumption—to have to think about the possibility of danger and to know how far to carry out security plans.  At the moment, we have, at the strong pressure from our Ugandan RAU board members, and by necessity per the local police department, hired two armed soldiers to be on guard during the night. The police department will also step up their patrolling of this area.

We wanted to hit the ground running, and to begin to accomplish, in the words of our daughter, Anna,  “the meat and potatoes” of why we came here.  It has been difficult to get a running start though.  If you can imagine a mud pit at the start of the race, and the athlete having to trudge his way through it before he can actually start running—that’s us! For us the “mud pit” is a cultural learning curve, different pace of life, difficulty in accomplishing what, in the States, would be a simple thing—having to build, from the bush up, some place to stay and from which to work.  It is an intense struggle just to get up and running!  The people that we are acquainted with here are eager for us to succeed because they know this area will greatly benefit by RAU’s presence and services.

As we go forward from here we would like to place before you matters for prayer and also the financial needs we have.  We hope you will not grow weary in hearing about them!


*for safety!  There is no current, major threat, just the normal risks involved in being in this part of the world.

*for comfort in being separated from those we love and all that feels normal.

*for continued vision and passion to press into what the Lord has called us to do.

*for our relationships with local churches, the border guards stationed near us, and the local people—our new neighbors!

*for continued good health.  We have been cautious about our drinking water and food, but the mosquitoes are hard to avoid.

Leaving Kampala soon for RAU

Entering one of Kampala's taxi parks
Entering one of Kampala’s taxi parks

Our two weeks here in Kampala have been very busy as we get things to set up the RAU Guesthouse/Hall of Tyrannus to live in and to host pastors,evangelists and church planters as well as teams from America. The logistics of getting things in this large city is very challenging, to say the least. Most of the time Sam and I travel on Bodas (motorcycle taxis). Patrick has also driven his vehicle for us when we have had to get larger items. These men, as well as Abraham, are such blessings to me, to RAU, and for the advancement of the gospel. It is an honor to work with them!  At the end of the long days coming back to our hosts’ home (The Bukenya’s) all sweaty and covered with African red dirt I have had to remind myself that all this going here and there to finish the Guesthouse is not the reason we are here. Our lives, the Guesthouse/Hall of Tyrannus, RAU’s 17 acres, and future facilities are just vessels for the advancement of Christ’s Name where He is not known so people who have no opportunity to hear the gospel would believe and become worshipers of the living God.

"Nurse" Sam
“Nurse” Sam

Downtown Kampala

Kampala Traffic
Kampala Traffic

We have water in our outside RAU water tank which was filled from our well. This tank has gravity filled our 5,000 liter tank in the Guesthouse attic so we will have running water in the house! I am hoping the water will be warm enough in the attic tank to give us warm showers, if not our showers will be very brief! We are working on getting the remaining fixtures working. We are bringing from Kampala a generator and two 230 watt solar panels with all the equipment needed  to electrify the house. We have a central battery room which will feed the rest of the house. The only electricity we will have is from the solar panels and the generator.

For cooking needs we have purchased a two burner gas unit which will run off the LPG tanks we bought. We also have a small refrigerator which will help store a few items as long as we can keep power. Too many things to list have also been bought. We have brought some things in our suitcases but we are pretty much starting from scratch. It reminds me of when Carol and I first were married and were setting up our home. When the container arrives there are things in it as well which will be a great help, such as a wash machine. Carol has already gotten a taste of washing clothes by hand (see attached photo). Once the container leaves Seguin Texas it will take about 60 days to reach us. Great friends from Lifegate and a few other friends will pack it. Pray for it’s safe arrival!

I have been “pinching pennies” the best I can to get as many things as we can with the funds we brought with us. My haggling skills are getting better but are still lacking.. Fortunately, I have had Sam with me. He literally grew up on the streets of Kampala so there is not much that gets past him! Thank you to all who have given and prayed to bring us this far. In the attachments there are pictures taken of the Guesthouse from the same spot. The only difference is one was taken in 2011 and the other just a week ago. The water storage tank used for construction  is the only thing which is in both pictures. Praise God for His grace and mercy! Thank you as well!

RAU Guesthouse/Hall of Tyrannus (East view September 2011). I am here with Abraham sharing the gospel with some of our workers.
RAU Guesthouse/Hall of Tyrannus (East view September 2011). I am here with Abraham sharing the gospel with some of our workers.
RAU Guesthouse/Hall of Tyrannus (East view July 2013)
RAU Guesthouse/Hall of Tyrannus (East view July 2013)

Please continue to pray and give whatever you can to help us spread the fame of King Jesus. In many ways we we feel everything we are doing is like planting an acorn. An acorn which will grow into a large strong oak tree which will proclaim the gospel and disciple generation after generations until Jesus comes back again. We are here for the long term and together with your support and prayers we look to strengthen the church, help send out church planters to the many unreached people groups in Africa (some have this count at 3,000 unreached people groups in Africa), and as the Lord provides, give medical care and provide education from a Christian worlview for so many without it in the Moyo area. We commit to faithfully use the funds which are given for God’s glory. Thank You!!

We are still lacking the remaining funds to purchase the 1999 Land Cruiser we would use for ministry.  Yesterday I picked up Carol’s, Sam’s and my South Sudanese visas. Then Sam and I spent most of the afternoon literally in the shadow of the Mu mar Gaddafi mosque (it is right in the middle of Ramadan season) filling out papers for my Ugandan driver’s license. The mosque is said to be the largest one in East Africa. The calls to prayer were very loud and were an impetus for me to pray for the Muslims around me.
The Lord sent us a “well connected” man who helped us walk through the many bureaucratic hurdles that are set out for a foreigner to get a drivers license. What could have taken many days or even weeks we were able to get accomplished in two or so hours. He knew all the right people to get the needed stamps and signatures. I gladly paid him for all his help! Today I went through a few more lines and was told my Ugandan license will be ready to be picked up in one week. May the Lord provide the right vehicle for the Lord’s work in the rugged terrain in which we will be working.

We are looking, the Lord willing, to travel north to Moyo Monday. We are hiring a truck to haul all our things and we will go in Patrick’s vehicle. We will be very loaded and roads are not good, especially the from Gulu to Moyo which are all dirt. We will have to take a  ferry across the Nile River between Adjumini and Moyo.

Thank you for all your prayers and support!

God Bless You!
Jacob Lee

“Do not pray for easy lives, pray to be stronger men or women. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers, pray for power equal to your tasks. Then the doing of your work shall be no miracle but you shall be the miracle” Phillip Brooks (1835-1893)

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One week plus in Africa

Downtown Kampala
Downtown Kampala

Carol and I have now been in Africa for over a week. Thank you for all your prayers and support. We are blessed to have your prayers, friendship, encouragement, and support!

Boda Boda travel has been our main mode of transport in Kampala
Boda Boda travel has been our main mode of transport in Kampala

Our children and their spouses, Joshua, Rebecca, Josiah, Anna, and Kenny blessed Carol and me by sending short notes placed in “treasure boxes” to read and candies to eat. They included remembrances during childhood and encouragements. Carol and I at times laughed; at other times tears fell. Our lives have been so blessed and full of love! We have been able to Skype a few times this week. I am grateful for technology but it doesn’t replace hugs and playing with the grand kids. Pray for Carol and me in this as we miss our family very much.

It was an honor to preach in Patrick’s church, First Presbyterian Kampala, on Sunday the 14th. I have  preached there many times since my first trip to Uganda in ’06.  I have many good friends at First Presbyterian.  This church has been faithfully preaching the gospel since the late ’70’s, Idi Amin’s time. At the end of the service the congregation prayed for Carol and me. We are very grateful for this family of faith!

It is especially nice to be here with Carol. I have come so many times without her. On July 10th we celebrated 32 years of marriage here in Uganda. My oh my how the time has flown, the Lord was so good and gracious to me by placing her beside me! I am so grateful for her! Most of our first year of marriage was spent in India as missionaries and now 32 years later we hope to pour out the rest of lives for our King primarily in North Uganda, South Sudan, and Northeastern D.R. Congo. God has given her much grace to put up with me and walk together in the calling He has given us together as a couple. May the Lord give us many more years together in His service!

We turned in our passports today to get our 3 year work permits and should have them returned soon. Please pray God’s hand of favor to be with us with the government officials. We spent much of our first week  getting things for the RAU Guesthouse/Hall of Tyrannus and our new home. We have bought  things to get water flowing inside the Guesthouse, solar panels and accessories, household items etc. Please pray for continuing provision as money has been flowing quickly through our fingers getting these provisions. Please help if you can. We should be heading north to  RAU sometime this week.

RAU Guesthouse/Hall of Tyrannus
RAU Guesthouse/Hall of Tyrannus

Some more money  has come in for the 1999 Land Cruiser we are hoping to purchase. Please pray with us that we can get the remaining funds soon so that we can order it and begin using it for ministry.
Thank you for all your prayers and support!

This is one of notes Joshua, our son, left in my “treasure box”:

“The way of the warrior is the resolute acceptance of death” (Mariko Yashida) and “As long as I can spend my life for Christ I care not whether I am eaten by cannibals or by worms” (John Patton).

May we all as Christians be so resolute in following our Lord and King—Jesus!

The article below written by Tim Challies brought me great encouragement as I read it. May it encourage you as well as you press on to honor King Jesus!



The Bible tells me I am to store up treasures in heaven. It tells me there are eternal rewards for decisions I make in this life and it tells me I should desire these rewards and act accordingly. And yet sometimes I feel the desire for reward is a sign of spiritual weakness rather than strength, like that is for lesser Christians and that I should grow beyond it. I struggle with the idea that I am to be motivated to obey God in this world by the promise of reward in the next. It has always struck me as wrong, as something a little bit less than noble, that I would obey God not purely and solely out of a desire to obey him, but out of a desire to increase my eternal reward. Have you ever wondered about that?

Is it wrong to be motivated by rewards? Somehow in my mind it seems like the reward must negate the joy or the purity of obedience, and especially when it comes to the way I handle money. Shouldn’t I want to give out of the joy of obedience? Shouldn’t I want to give simply because I love the God who commands me to give generously?

Randy Alcorn has helped me as I’ve pondered this. In his book Managing God’s Money, he refers to God granting eternal rewards for faithful obedience “the neglected key to unlocking our motivation” and digs up plenty of biblical proof that our Bible heroes were motivated by this kind of reward. He offers Hebrews 11:26 as a simple example: “He [Moses] considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.” And, of course, we know that the Apostle Paul was also running with his eye on the prize—the crown that would last forever (1 Corinthians 9:25). Both men were doing the obedient thing on earth with a view to eternal reward.

Even Christ endured the cross “for the joy that was set before him” (Hebrews 12:2). He humbled himself knowing that he would soon be exalted. He, too, found his motivation in the eternal reward that would await him—in this case the glory of his Father as he is worshiped by a church washed and redeemed. This challenged me. If I maintain that it is wrong to be motivated by rewards, I am bringing an accusation against Christ, suggesting that he was wrongly motivated. And I bring that same accusation against Paul and Moses and others.

Having made the argument from Scripture, Alcorn makes the argument from human experience, pointing out that in other areas of life we are routinely motivated by reward. This is true in home, school and business. “Every effective manager and every wise leader knows the importance of incentives. These are motivators that may be personal, social, spiritual, physical, or financial. Unfortunately, countless Christians consider incentives to be ‘secular,’ ‘carnal,’ or ‘unspiritual.’” We even use rewards to motivate our own children; so why should we be surprised that God uses rewards to motivate his children? Says Alcorn,

To say “I don’t do anything for the reward—I do it only because it’s right,” may appear to take the spiritual high ground. But, in fact, it’s pseudospiritual. Saying that there’s only one good reason to do something denies the other ways God himself uses to motivate us. It contradicts all the passages of Scripture that unmistakably attempt to motivate us by our desire for rewards.

This is convicting! I may feel like I am taking the moral high ground when I say, “I do it only it because it’s right,” but that is actually pride talking. It is pride telling me that I know better than God.

Whose idea is it to grant rewards to faithful stewards? Alcorn offers a metaphor. Suppose that I offer my son a reward if he spends his whole Saturday working outside with me. “Put in a day’s work and I’ll pay you $50 and take you out for dinner.” Is it wrong for my son to now desire the reward I have offered him? Of course not! That’s one side of the metaphor. Here is the other: As a father, I want my son to desire this reward. I want him to want it, and I want him to have it. It will be my joy to give it to him. I even want it to motivate him to joyful work based on joyful expectation. It would be wrong of my son to demand a reward for obedience, but it is not wrong for him to desire one if I have offered it.

In the same way, it is God’s idea that there should be this close relationship between obedience and reward. God designed me and all of us in such a way that we are motivated by incentive. It’s who we are. This gives me the joy and freedom of doing the right thing because it is the right thing and because I will receive God’s reward. The two are complementary, not in conflict.

The fact is, God does not have to reward me for what I do. Instead, he chooses to and delights to. At the end of the long day’s work, it is my joy to hand my son his reward and to take him out to dinner. At the end of the long day’s work, he honors me by accepting the reward I offer him. Why should I grant God any less?