BUSY WITH WHAT MATTERS – PART 2
By Carol Lee
“Truly great friends are hard to find, difficult to leave, and impossible to forget.” (Unknown)
Our beloved and “truly great friend” and co-laborer in Christ, John Howarton, has come and gone. We are thankful to John’s wife, Angela, for “loaning” him to us for a season! During this season we also had the GREAT joy of having Nurse Sam and Muhtar back home with us from university, adding to Samuel and Emma who stay here. Believe me, it was beautiful to have our table full – of people, laughter and conversation! Jacob and I have often mused about the struggle we feel after our friends come and go. It’s such an encouragement and a boost to us all. Their absence feels like a wide and deep chasm. However, as Samuel reminds me often, “that’s missionary life!”
Let’s just say that when John got here we pretty much hit the ground running. Jacob likes to schedule as many ministry opportunities as possible to squeeze the maximum blessing out of our guests – so much so that, I’m sure, they have to return home to recuperate!
Sunday, January 1st, was spent with our brothers and sisters at Ayaa Baptist Church. We have grown to love these people – their fervor for the Lord and their commitment to making disciples of Christ in all the surrounding villages is amazing to see. Pastor Tobious and his wife graciously hosted us for lunch afterward.
On Monday we headed to Gbari with Tobious and a couple of other men. We dropped off our Principle Ag Extension Officer, Emma, and John there to do a drip irrigation training for Pastor Geoffrey and a few other folks. The rest of us continued the drive towards Duku and Oyo where John Howarton gave some words of encouragement. As most of the adults were at a funeral, John had to do some quick thinking to adjust his message towards young children. He did a wonderful job of sharing the life lessons of a young shepherd boy – from a small, insignificant village in Israel from the tribe of Judah – David!
The story that John shared reminds us that God does significant things with “insignificant” people in “insignificant” places. We experienced our own such moment when we reached the vehicle after spending some time at Oyo. A gentlemen was guarding our vehicle. He was armed with a bow and arrows and a panga (machete). After a few photo ops, Jacob engaged this man in a conversation about serving Christ, “being a soldier for the Lord.” The man queried, “When can I do that?” Jacob happily answered, “You can do it right now!” At this point, Jacob explained the saving work of Christ more thoroughly and what it meant to “follow or serve Christ.” And, at this point, the gentleman prayed a prayer to submit himself to the saving work that Christ did on his behalf!
Please pray for him – that the Lord would protect him in the faith and that this man would receive helpful discipleship from Pastor Sam who has been faithfully walking to Oyo each weekend to care for the believers in there. (On this trip we brought bamboo poles on top the Land Cruiser for Pastor Sam to use to finish the tukalus where he can stay when he comes on the weekends.)
On the way back we checked on the little girl who had burned her foot and for whom we had brought antibiotic ointment. The mother was absolutely rejoicing as she showed us the beautiful healing which had occurred. (Our initial concern was that they were using a traditional method of smearing goat dung over the burn.) Back at Gbari we saw the plot which had been set up with drip irrigation and then enjoyed a small meal before returning to RAU.
Unexpectedly, we received some deeply sad news on Monday evening – that good friend and co-worker, Mundrugo, had passed away very suddenly. This meant a definite change in plans from heading back to the Metu Mountains to visit the folks in Oku and Lea to hanging around and being available to those who were making the funeral arrangements for our friend. Both Tuesday and Wednesday were devoted to honoring Mundrugo and supporting the family through their devastating loss. He was the breadwinner for his family and even extending beyond his immediate family. We still think of him often and are reminded of the blessing he was to RAU when we walk around the compound. Some lovely friends provided the funds so that we can support the widow and four youngest children for a year. RAU is also helping two more of his children attend Covenant Junior School run by First Presbyterian Church in Kampala where our brother, Patrick, is a pastor.
On Thursday, we (minus Emma and Samuel, who were staying behind because of the evening Ag radio program) headed to Yumbe for Pilgrim Church’s annual Youth Conference. We were there for the next two days as well. While there, we met up with Perrti and Heidi Soderlund, from Finland, who are also longtime missionaries in Uganda.
John and Jacob both shared inspiring messages with the youth. On Thursday evening, Jacob and Charles did open air preaching in the downtown Yumbe taxi park. It’s a great place to draw a crowd and for people of this primarily Muslim town to also listen to the message at a “safe” distance.
Our young people also served in various capacities: Nurse Sam, Samuel and Muhtar shared Bible lessons with a younger group and Emma took a couple of sessions to teach Agriculture as a business. It never ceases to amaze me how eagerly people soak up the agricultural information. It is so key to their lives and livelihood.
Thank you, Charles and all your people at Pilgrim Church, for the incredible amount of work you did to make this conference happen! We pray that the Lord would bless all those who attended with godly, knowledgeable zeal which will impact all the communities from which they came.
On Sunday we made it to Obongi, where our brother, Godfrey, pastors Obongi Town Church. He is faithful in a difficult place and situation. Thankfully, he has a small band of faithful brothers who encourage and help him in the work. It’s always amazing, too, how many young children from the neighborhood gather and Pastor Godfrey is always welcoming of them and looks for ways to encourage them. This time, John Howarton brought a soccer ball from a student of his who raised money to buy them. Godfrey shared the miracle of receiving that ball as he had been wanting to clear a place for the children to play.
Monday was preparation day – for our 23rd Leadership Retreat! And Tuesday came around too fast! Unlike most retreats, our attendees arrived very early, leaving us scrambling a bit to finish up last minute arrangements. We had a total of 28 attendees from Adjumani and some unexpected “wee” ones! As always, we run a tight schedule for the retreats in order to maximize the learning time, so…we hit the ground running! Normally, the retreats run from Tuesday to Friday. However, we had to get John to Arua on Friday to catch his flight to Entebbe on Saturday morning, so the retreat was cut one day short.
It always seems that just about the time we are getting to know and appreciate the attendees more personally, the time is up and they are gone! John, Jacob and Emma did a wonderful job of teaching, inspiring and counseling. We thank Samuel, Lucy, Christine and Rosemary for doing their part to make the retreat run smoothly, as well as the men who work with us at RAU who make the compound the beautiful garden that it is!
Jacob is enjoying a low key today (Saturday) after the pressures of a full schedule and a ton of driving on rough and very dusty roads. This hot, dry and dusty season has added its stress to our busy schedule, though some good face masks have made the trips a little more bearable.
Though this hot and dry season is bad in some ways, it does make for a good time to move ahead on the next building project, our Bible Training classroom. By faith, and with the money we have received, Jacob has begun to have materials (sand, stones and bricks) delivered so that when the funding comes in we can move ahead without delay. Our hope is to have the classroom ready by the time our Reaching and Teaching Team comes in May for the second session or module of their 3-year program. The classroom will be larger than the Hall of Tyrannus room which we are currently using and will allow for larger groups to come for community seminars (Agriculture and Bible training), 4-day retreats and the Reaching and Teaching program.
Once the classroom is ready we will move the library books into the hall of Tyrannus to make the library more accessible to leaders who are here for training. The room where the library currently is will be made into another bedroom which can be used when we host larger ministry teams.
Please consider a special gift towards this building project so that the other funds received can be used to keep our daily operations and ministries going.
Jacob continues to have amazing doors opening up to him in the Muslim community. Currently, a Muslim background believer has shown the “Jesus” Film in 9 mosques and has received permission to show it in all 219 mosques in a certain jurisdiction. Because the method of showing the film is with small computer, there is a possibility that Jacob may be allowed to bring the RAU projector and speakers to show the film on a larger scale in the Mosques. Please pray for this possible opportunity. The Lord is at work. Only He knows the fruit of these efforts at this point.
Thank you all for your loving support and prayers!
Carol (Jacob) Lee
For those who have asked, small packages and letters may safely be sent to:
Jacob & Carol Lee, PO. 55, Moyo Uganda, East Africa
The greatest evil is having the gospel and not doing everything within our power to get it to those who do not have it. (Jacob Lee)
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