Dear Family and Friends,
“But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with endurance.” (Romans 8:25, New English Translation)
Last week, we eagerly received Dr. Stephen McConnell to RAU. We had been anticipating his visit for months, making plans with local medical personnel, especially Kiiza Frances, a clinical officer, to squeeze as many experiences as possible into Stephen’s fact-finding mission. Our efforts did not disappoint!
It’s a good thing Stephen got some rest in Entebbe before he arrived in Moyo/Afoji on Saturday because we did not give him any down time. On Sunday, we took him to the Gbari/Arapi Community church where, on the previous Sunday, 71 were baptized from this church and a few surrounding churches. Everywhere we took Stephen, he was able to hold an impromptu clinics to help diagnose various ailments which were brought to him and give advice on treatment. We made a short visit to a local clinic where Stephen was able to see the amazing work that healthcare workers do with limited resources for the communities they serve. What a blessing to have his expertise and he was tireless and kind in giving his time and attention.
On Monday, I took him to see Moyo Hospital and to meet with many of the staff there. Moyo Hospital has made great strides in upgrading its facilities – it will be such a blessing to see things up and running well for the benefit of the local community as well as the many refugees who are also being referred there for treatment. It was especially a success to meet and talk with Dr. Joseph, one of the very few physicians, and to get a clear idea from him what the major concerns and needs are. In addition, Dr. Stephen McConnell was also inspired and encouraged by the possibilities of coming in the future with other physicians and medical personnel to work alongside Dr. Joseph and to do capacity building workshops for healthcare workers as well as to provide community health instruction for disease prevention to community members.
Tuesday was a completely different and unique venue: the Metu Mountains and some of our favorite, hard-to-reach villages. We stopped at a clinic along the way, near Ijujo, and met with a wonderful woman who runs the clinic under the most bleak of conditions, bearing a load with little help and a deficiency of supplies and medicines that must be very discouraging. Further down the road we stopped in Cinyi (Chinyi) where we looked at the proposed site for a bore hole and where Stephen held a small clinic for the local village members who would, under normal circumstances, have to walk a day’s journey to get to the nearest . After Cinyi, we hiked down to Oku, which is the end of the road for that deep valley. We wanted Stephen to see the difficult circumstances in which these precious people live. Along the hike down into the valley, we noticed several women, young and old, some with babies on their backs, hauling water up the very steep mountain. These experiences made their mark on us all and inspired us anew to do as much as possible to improve the lives and livelihood of this remote “unreached” (in terms of resources) community of people, especially clean water via bore holes.
Wednesday took us in a different direction: to Palorinya Processing Camp for Refugees and, then, to a local Health Center III, right across the road from one of the new refugee settlement areas called, “Beramaling 3”. While Uganda has been gracious and welcoming to the flood of refugees, it has not done it without a cost to its own host populations. This was evident in the clinic we visited as resources, space and personnel had to be shared and the waiting lines were long. Fortunately, several NGOs are partnering with the clinic to bring personnel and supplies to this needy area which serves a growing population of refugees fleeing from South Sudan as well as the host community.
Jacob and I are particularly grateful for a young man who has proved faithful to minister inside the refugee settlements, disseminating many of the resources which have been given to RAU to distribute.
Thursday was Stephen’s last day in Moyo. He was grateful for some time to spend on RAU farm, observing the folks who were hired to dig holes and plant soybeans and also helping cut down banana trees which have finished fruiting and slicing them up as mulch which is then placed at the base of the other trees. Stephen never missed an opportunity to serve in any way he could while he was with us. He and Jacob enjoyed hanging out together just “doing stuff” around the compound.
Thursday afternoon, we spent some time visiting a local family and experiencing their love and hospitality. Thursday evening was an inspiring “think tank” experience where we met with Dr. Joseph and clinical officer, Kiiza at a local restaurant. Two physicians, Doctors Lynn and Sharon Fogleman, a husband and wife team from the USA who will be living and working within Moyo, joined up with us for what was an exciting sharing of needs and ideas of how those needs could be met through networking and shared resources. It gave Jacob and me an eager hope of good things to come – a foretaste of the grace which the Lord wants to extend to this under served and underdeveloped area.
Friday was a bittersweet day. We took Stephen back to Arua to catch a puddle jumper to Entebbe on Saturday morning. We enjoyed every bit of time spent with him; his humble and kind spirit brought refreshment to us and his exuberance and vision for the future fueled us with eager expectation for “what’s next.” While he was here we half-teasingly, half-seriously pointed out where we could build a house for him and his family for when they “decide to move here” and told him we were going to go way “over his head” (if you know what I mean) and ask for a transfer! Thank goodness, all those things are in the Hands of a wise and loving God who knows the end from the beginning and everything in between!
We want to especially thank Maddie McConnell for not only “allowing” Stephen to come, but for encouraging him to come. We were blown away by her organizational skills and by the care and thoughtfulness with which she packed the many supplies which were donated for the ministry. A grand “thank you” to all the loving people who gave requested items, including the suitcases in which everything was safely arrived. We definitely look forward with eager hope to the next time when Maddie is able to accompany Stephen!
While we were in Arua, dropping Stephen off, our next group of visitors was arriving at RAU! Recently, we met George Smith from Mississippi who, along with his wife, Geraldine, have been missionaries in Uganda for 17 years. When he came through the last time, he was looking for opportunities for short term mission groups and for places for them to stay. At that time, we made plans for him to bring a team of 3 men to stay with us as they ministered in various places in the West Nile region.
It was a particular joy to meet and fellowship with George, Shawn, Doug and Brian. His three visitors are all from Texas, so you KNOW they had to be good folks! It never ceases to amaze us that perfect strangers, because of the bond in Christ, can immediately feel like family! They spent three nights with us but, during the day, they headed out to Itula and other places along the Nile where several of the refugee camps are located. Their goal was to share the disciple-making strategy of T4T (Training for Trainers) in hopes that, by a multiplication process, the impact of the Gospel will go far and wide. Our visits in the evening were full of laughter, great conversation, sharing of personal stories and prayer. Thank you, George for coming our way and giving us the privilege and blessing of knowing you and your guests.
We look forward to seeing George and his wife, Geraldine, when they bring a larger group (12-13) at the end of this month!
On a personal note, we have found out that the Lord is bringing several American missionary families to this area to serve both the host and refugee communities. This has meant for me the eager hope of friendships and fellowship and the possibility of being more involved in medical endeavors as time allows.
We have so much to be grateful for. The Lord is clearly at work in this area and is increasing the opportunities we have to serve Him and the people to whom He has called us to live alongside. I have told so many people that I am thrilled to see God openning the windows of heaven to pour His blessings out on this particular area of Uganda. Though the attention and help has come largely on account of the influx of refugees, we see that many resources are being channeled to the West Nile region, both material and human resources.
Being so close to the South Sudan border means their civil war has been brought a little closer to us as well. In Face Book posts we have shared links to many of the events in South Sudan as well as our own experience of seeing and hearing exchange of gunfire right near the border. Just this week we heard of armed rebels who came across the border into Uganda and were seen at Afoji center, just a quarter of a mile from us, and apparently they were hunting down some of their own people. However, they threatened our local people not to make any calls out “or else”. We also heard that some of them were able to sneak into refugee camps and several deaths were even reported. You can find the story at this Ugandan Newspaper link:
Jacob never misses an opportunity to meet with Muslim leaders who are willing to interact on matters of religion. Here is something he posted on Face Book about his latest visit:
“I had a very good one on one meeting with a Sheikh yesterday. I was joined by co-workers,Charles (who interpreted), Samuel, and Mindra. I have known him now for almost 2 years and he has attended a number of my dialogs with Imams and Sheikhs and has become a friend. He gladly received Bibles in Aringa,Swahili and Arabic along with other reading materials and RAU-grown fresh mangoes. He is older (my age ) and teaches Islamic studies in a school. We discussed, civilly, differences on the person of Jesus, salvation, and prayer. He is very ingrained in Islam but, by the end of or three hours together, I sensed him opening more to the message I was sharing with him then and in our past times in group dialogs. Close to the end of our time together he stated, “Jacob, if what you say is true and it is revealed to me I will come to your side and you,Jacob, if it is revealed to you that Islam is right you come to my side “. Before we parted he asked for me to pray for him which I gladly did in, Jesus Name, with my head and arms upward to Jehovah! Sometime, in the next couple weeks, I want to take him to the clinic to be tested for an illness which has been plaguing him for a long time. Thank you all who prayed…may the Lord grant him revelation and eyes to adore the Savior!
Pray also for another one on one meeting next Saturday with another Sheikh who leads other Sheikhs and Imams. Also, we have the opportunity to show the “Jesus” film, in the middle of next week, to a large group of Imams and Sheikhs. Praise God for these open doors!!”
Here are some of the things we are working towards with EAGER HOPE and for which we ask you to be in fervent prayer:
- The work on our larger “Hall of Tyrannus” is making great strides. There is still a bit of pressure as we see the end of the month coming upon us more quickly than we want and in light of the two groups we will be hosting back to back at the end of April and the beginning of May. Please pray that all will move well and without many obstacles and that the builders will meet that deadline with some time to spare! We are so grateful for the provision of a large donation to help with its completion!
- The drilling of 3 bore holes in the remote areas of the Metu Mountains (Alugodu, Cinyi and Ijujo). In partnership with a local engineer, John, we were able to do a survey and locate a water source in each of these 3 areas which will provide clean water and an improved quality of life and health for these communities. Currently, we have funding for 1 of the bore holes. We ask for your help in funding the other two bore holes. Each one costs $7500.
- Please be praying for the two groups which will be arriving back to back beginning on April 29th . Pray that all the preparations would go smoothly and that all the accommodations would be ready to go!
- Pray for rain in this region. We have had some rain, but, now that the soybeans and regular beans have been planted, we could use some heavier rains to help them germinate well and grow to produce abundantly. As we have stated, the soybean yield will be ground with millet and given to a local health center to assist host and refugee community members who are suffering from malnutrition.
- Pray for South Sudan! The loss of life and livelihood, the displacement of millions of its citizens, the horrific trauma they have experienced and the wanton destruction in terms of infrastructure, food production, resources and progress is beyond understanding. Please also pray for Uganda who is struggling to keep up with and care for the immense number of refugees. The influx is stressing the local population.
Thank you for your loving interest and partnership with us!
Carol (and 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!———–When at least 35% of the world; “the unoccupied fields”, have no access to the gospel, we (believers) must all do all we can to reach them. We who are saved owe the gospel to every lost person, most especially the 2.4 billion who will not hear unless someone breaks into their “unoccupied field” with no thought of their own life!Jacob Lee
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