Friday, April 28, 2017

Women's Bible Study

I have been really enjoying women’s Bible study the last few months.  We meet every Wednesday.  It really isn’t anything special, women usually come an hour or so late (so I go about an hour after the time they say), we have anywhere from three to eight women come, we simply read a passage and study it together…but when we read and learn from God’s Word the Holy Spirit moves!  In God’s Word we find truth, hope, peace, life!  God opens our hearts and we understand.  We receive from Him.  In a world that is hurting, angry, hungry, filled with lies and worries…we come apart for an hour into God’s truth and are refreshed, refocused, empowered.

Margaret and I are often at women’s Bible study long before others finally show up.  This used to annoy me – what a waste of time!  But now I enjoy my time with Margaret.  I find we have the same passion – Jesus and His Word.  She testifies of God and all He can do.  She talks about how women here used to be slaves before we came and taught God’s truth.  She used to worry all day long how she would feed all the kids, have money for school, how she could get a permanent home (not a hut)…  She would read her Bible on Sunday in church then it would stay in her bag until the next Sunday.  Now she knows she is to seek God’s kingdom first and then everything else will be added (Matt. 6:33).  She now reads her Bible every day and doesn’t worry.  She knows the Lord and trusts Him to take care of her.  She desires His kingdom.  She has been empowered to teach and knows God has equipped her to share His truth.  She mourns over the women who don’t come to women’s Bible study.  If they are too busy to be with the Lord for one hour, then they don’t know the Lord.  One Wednesday she shared that she wasn’t going to come.  She had grabbed her bag and was going to do her work, but on the way she realized her Bible was in that bag.  She decided to go to church first then do her work.  She testified how thankful she was that God brought her to Bible study because she was so encouraged by His Word.  It was the very word she needed.
I can relate.  So often I go because I should, but I come away energized by God’s Word.  The truth in it overwhelms me!  It is all there, so clear, so good.  I am filled by it.  Encouraged and challenged by it.  I love God’s Word!  We have been going through Philippians in our Bible study.  Most weeks no one has prepared to lead so I am asked to lead, which is fine.  I found I like to lead because I learn so much going verse by verse with them through the passage.  Growing in the Lord together with my friends is a blessing to me.

I walked home after Bible study with Kristine and she shared how her mind has been free because of the Freedom in Christ teachings.  Her mind use to go!  She could worry, fear, over think, scared…and her mind would go.  But now it is quiet and there is peace.  She knows how to control it when it wants to go back to worry.  God’s truth has changed her life.  I love hearing their testimonies.  I have a similar one.  Truth changed how I think and live.  Romans 8:6 says, “The mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.”  Amen!

Last week Margaret, Kristine and I were invited to go to Pingere and meet with the women’s group there.  I don’t know what it is but I get so fearful about preparing to teach, especially in a village an hour away at an all-day conference.  I really want to share God’s Word, so I prayed about my fears and chose to go and teach in faith.  It isn’t the teaching I don’t like; it is the preparing what to say and how to explain, share and show it.  Does that make me lazy?  As I wrestled over this I went through the first lesson of Freed to Lead course with people here.  In it they used the passage from 2 timothy 1:5-7 that says we have not been given a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind.  I felt God telling me to give Him the fears and take the Spirit I was supposed to have. 

I knew the day in Pingere itself would go well.  I do enjoy teaching (sharing) I would just rather do it than prepare.  My problem usually is talking too long!  It took a little while for me to get into it and for the ladies to get it or interact, but we got there and the Lord taught us.  I went through Titus 2.  We are called to teach by example, so we must first have it and live it to be able to teach others.  Teach women to love their husbands and children, to be kind, homemakers, pure, and to submit to their husbands.  Then the Word of God will not be spoken of badly.  I really enjoy being with the women – the fellowship, being a part of them, worshipping and seeking the Lord, growing, sharing…

I think that is what it is; my first love, my life, my favorite topic, my joy…is Jesus and that is what my friends here talk about and live out too.  We have unity.  We build one another up, spur each other on, encourage…  Before you think it sounds too good to be true, I am not saying all women here love the Lord like this.  I am saying that my women friends from the church encourage my faith.  It isn’t one way.  I need them and they need me.  We grow together in the Lord.  We serve together.  It is a beautiful thing that I am so thankful for and blessed by.

Achia Update

 We appreciate all your prayers for Achia.  God has been at work.  He has provided a temporary home for her right now.  Our friend Lusi who works for us opened her home and heart to Achia.  Lusi was concerned for Achia’s safety so we asked her to pray about taking Achia in.  It is beautiful to see her love and care for Achia.  Others have seen how Achia is improving and now also share Lusi’s love for her.  (Lusi has agreed temporarily but has concerns about providing for her long term.)  Achia’s parents told probation and the social worker they cannot care for Achia and signed off (can’t write so they finger printed) all their rights for her.  The clan also signed off and said Achia would die in their care.  God has put a calling on Mandy’s parents’ hearts to try to adopt Achia.  Adopting in Uganda is a very long and difficult process so please pray for Dave and Mary Beute.  They are walking in obedience and faith.  We continue to see God has a plan for Achia and we can trust in Him to provide for her.  We have also been working with a couple organizations in Uganda to help us with information, physical therapy, doctors, and other care

for disabled children.  Achia has gained about 4 pounds in the last three months.  She is now almost 25 pounds (at six years old).  She is gaining strength too and we all believe she will learn to walk.  She is blind but can see some light and shadows.  Achia can hear but has never spoken.  We believe most of her disabilities come from brain damage (from Cerebral Malaria as a baby?), malnutrition, and neglect.  God has saved her life and we know it is for a purpose; He has used it to touch many people already.  

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Food Distribution

Here are some pictures from one of the six food distributions.  We went to Akisim.  It was great to see how much the church has grown since the outreach in January.  Church was packed!  (And they did not know we were coming with food.)  We gave out 40 bags of 50kg corn flour in Akisim (one per family of the members of the church) and 250 total for all six churches.  We are thankful for your help, support, and prayers for the people here and the food distribution.

Drought for the past 10 months

Our thank you gifts

Saturday, April 8, 2017


Can you even imagine true hunger?  Eating once a day?  Not having anything to give to your hungry children?  On top of hunger there is sickness like Malaria and no money for treatment or treatment that doesn’t work.  Not having money to provide for your family’s basic needs.  Your animals die because of drought and sickness.  No money for food let alone school fees. 

Honestly, most of us cannot imagine.

People deny it when I say it, but the truth is we (from the Western world) are rich.  Most of us will never know what it is like to depend on the land for food and then experience drought resulting in no food and no money.  We don’t know true hunger.  We have never had to deny our children meals, sent them to bed hungry, or look into their hungry faces and not be able to provide.  Most of our children have not been sent home because there is no money for school, or had to watch our sick kid suffer because there is no money for treatment.

No, if we are honest we are use to over eating, going out to eat, over stocking our homes with food, and going to a store anytime to buy just about whatever we want to.  We don’t think about not eating unless we want to loss weight.  We don’t worry about where we will get our next meal or how to feed the kids.  We throw away food – because we have so much!  Our entertainment is often built around food.  We take for grated all we have because we have always had it.  Our stores, the ones who grow food for us, rain, restaurants, money…  We now see it as our right to have it all.

I know most of you are thinking, “Ok Mandy, what do you want us to do?  Send our food (leftovers) to Africa?”  I know because people have said this to me.  They say it teasing but I think they are trying to dismiss their uncomfortable conviction.  Maybe we can’t send our leftovers to Africa, but do we care?  Do we think, feel, pray about, or do anything with our wealth and the poverty in the world?  Does it effect how we use our money and how much we eat or waste?  Do we take all we have for granted or are we truly thankful?

Poverty and hunger are a part of daily life here.  I am well aware that I am wealthy and well fed.  I don’t have to worry or think about how to get food to eat, but my neighbors and friends do.  Every day (three times a day!) our family sits around the table to eat.  We pray for our neighbors and I think about them as we eat so well.  It is hard.  I know not feeding my kids or us going into their hunger is not the answer, but sometimes I literally feel ill thinking about their hunger compared to my fullness.  There is a tension. 

We do help people here and feed those who are most in need.  But we are a family in the midst of about 4000 people in our village.  We are so thankful for caring, generous people in Michigan and other places in the States who have given toward food distributions.  We had one food distribution in Obulle where every family received 100kg sacks of maize flour, another food distribution in December where five churches received flour for each family in the churches. Now we are planning for another distribution this Sunday.  I am so grateful for this food that has blessed so many families.  I believe as we share the Good News and share food people are receiving the love of God.  He provides.

            We are thankful for those who gave, but we still wrestle with the tension.  The food is soon gone again.  Rain comes, giving hope, then stops and the gardens dry up and die.  Hunger and no money continue.  It has now been almost a year of not enough (sometimes no) rain.  I am well aware that it is most of Uganda and goes beyond to many countries that are suffering.  It can be overwhelming.

The amazing thing is that I don’t hear the people here complain – or shall I say I don’t hear my neighbors or friends in Obulle complain.  It challenges me.  I still see smiles, we fellowship as normal, they are thankful, we worship God with thankfulness, we help those who are in greatest need…  It seems everyone is in the same suffering so why complain.  Wow.  Our church leaders talk about praising God even when we are hungry – because He is God.  Or having joy in their suffering.  They trust in God.  I am so challenged by their faith and joy in the midst of sufferings.  I am convicted on my own complaining (“I have a right to food!”) ways.  Is God enough?! 

There are no easy answers.  No quick fixes.  I am not God; nor are Americans and their money, though He wants to use all of us.  God is always the answer.  He is God - in control, right, faithful, healer, provider, sustainer, Father…  He has a plan and it is always good and loving for those who trust in Him.  I see God answer and provide for His people everyday.  Sometimes He uses us, sometimes the believers here meet a need, sometimes Americans give, sometimes the rain comes, or God heals…  I do believe God has a greater plan in all of this.  Although I may not understand the inequality, the drought, the poverty, I do know I can trust in God.  He knows and He is holding all things together for His glory.  His ultimate desire is for all to know Him.  So maybe He is reaching the lost through this suffering and His provision.  I also know He is righteous and that suffering is the result of sin.  There is a lot of evil here – there is also a lot of evil in America – I am not saying all disaster and suffering is from sin.  But God will use it to call those in sin back to Him.  Like I said, I am not God and cannot understand, but I put my faith in Him – a loving, Holy God. 

My conclusion, pray.  Seek the Lord.  Trust Him.  Choose joy in Him during the hard times.  Do 2 Chronicles 7:13-14 “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”   Amen!