Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Oh What a Night

What you are about to read may not make sense to you but it is true and we pray God will use to turn His people back to Him.

One of the young men from our neighbor's home was living with a girl who he is not married to (but treated her as a wife), which means he has not paid the dowry for her.  They have lived together for almost two years and have a small child.  This week, that girl was in town to get her prenatal check up (she is around six months pregnant), she was hit by a car, and died.  The driver of the car fled.

All of our neighbors began to fear that the clan of that girl would turn their anger against them - the boy's clan.  Since he had not paid dowry, the girl still technically belonged to the clan she came from.  Since the driver fled, someone has to pay.  They feared the clan of that girl would come unannounced with many men and loot, and burn homes and property, steal whatever they want...or worse.  For a few hours our neighbors came with everything they owned and packed it in our garage.  Food, mattresses, Bibles, dishes, sheets, clothes, water jugs, pots, school supplies...came on the heads of adults and children of all sizes.  They feel the clan that comes wont touch our home so people want all their stuff locked in our house.  

This is what Ugandans call "mob justice".  There is no justice in it!  It is evil and no one wins.  It is about anger, revenge and lack of trust in the local authorities.  I have heard many stories of mob justice here, but this is the first time it was close to home and involved my neighbors and friends - my Ugandan family.  Fear is a terrible thing.  I saw my friends shaken up, kids eyes filled with fear...and helplessness that all gripped us.  I felt sick as I watched my friends flow into our yard bringing their things.  I wanted to help and save them.  What do I do?  What can I do?!  I love these people.  

Once again I had to truly depend on the Lord.  And once again, my friends here showed me faith in the Lord.  They have no one to protect them, no one to save them, no government to help, no security, no justice...only God their Defender, their Rescuer, their Refuge, their Protector, their Peace.  This is when we need true faith to trust in God, when your home and maybe life are on the line.  Is God enough?  Wow.  Living in Africa and being on the mission field has taught me over and over again what true need and dependence on the Lord is.  And because of it I know Him and trust Him.  

We prayed!  Soon many other friends from the village (other clans) came to support and encourage.  Some of us gathered in our porch and read God's Word, sang and prayed.  It is a beautiful thing to trust in the Lord together.  

That night most people wanted to stay home to protect it but grandma and the lady who is injured went to another compound to sleep.  I know some children slept outside not wanting to be in their homes in case they were burnt.  I went to bed with a heavy heart but with God's assurance too.  I kept praying for God's protection, for Him to put a wall around this area, to work in the hearts of those who want to do wrong, and to be the Peace we all need.  I woke up many times and just kept proclaiming God's protection over His people.  If God is for us who can stand against us?

I praise the Lord He answered our prayers!  Early the next day the girl's family did come.  Although some of the younger ones did want to fight, the father kept the peace and said he just wanted to bring his daughter home to bury her.  Wise man.  The tension in the village slowly subsided.  Many of the men went to town with the girl's family to figure things out and get the body.  So many people were grateful for all our prayers.  One of my friends said it was a true miracle that everything is ok.  She said the girl's clan does not follow Jesus and are known for drinking.  They were sure they would get angry and react.  God heard and answered our prayers.  He loves when we put our whole trust in Him.

Little by little more of the story come out - or I am learning more.  The driver who hit and killed the girl was found and the owners of the vehicle agreed to pay the whole cost of the funeral.  This kept them from jail I believe.  There was another vehicle that helped after the accident and was able to prove who did hit her.  The six month old baby was removed from the girl and buried separately.  The "husband/father" is still hiding as far as I know.  It was all sad.  We went to the burial.  I am sure over a thousand people were there.  (Sitting most of the day in over 100 degrees.)  Can you imagine not going to your "wife's" funeral.  The child left behind was called an orphan even though she has a father no one mentioned him (because they weren't married).  This girl wasn't a believer so it was hard.  I definitely noticed a difference from other burials I have been to.  I just pray it is a wake up call to others and that they come to Jesus through this. 

Oh, this whole ordeal leaves me with so very many thoughts and prayers.  I really hate the fake marriages here where they get pregnant and live together and call each other husband and wife.  They don't last.  I can say this because God hates it too.  It isn't God's way and it will not be blessed.  Sin has consequences and most of the time many innocent people are hurt and suffer.  Think about how many families could have lost their homes, things or worse because their relative didn't do marriage the right way.  Now, I also know that it is very complicated and messy.  No one seems to have money to pay dowry, so youth feel there is no way.  Too many don't want to wait, don't trust God to provide and so they take matters into their own hands.  I don't always know what to think of the whole system here, but I do know that God's plan for marriage is above every culture and time.  His way works for all people, everywhere.  He will bless it when we do it His way, but He will not bless what He said is wrong.  Immorality is sin and it will never bring peace.  

I am crying out to God to teach the youth here His ways and that they will walk in His truth!

My prayer is that people will see what has happened and repent of their ways that are a part from God.  That they will change and live according to His good plan for them.  That they will trust Him and know His blessings when we obey His will.  I pray that marriage is honored here and that God transforms the hearts of the people to do marriage His way.

I see the cycle of sin in the parents and children and I pray that it stops here.  I pray for the immorality that binds God's people here is broken.  I pray that the power of sin and slavery and death it brings is defeated as God's people know who they are because of Christ. 

I pray for those who are still far from Jesus to encounter Him.  That God turns what was meant for evil and turns it into good.  That all will hear and know that God is powerful, rescues, protects, and loves His children.  I pray we are a testimony for Him.  

It grieves me that this girl lived three compounds away and died without receiving Jesus.  Almost every compound around her claim to be followers of Jesus.  Did we fail to share the Good News before it was too late?  Had she heard and rejected it?  I don't know but I am praying we as Christians here are shaken, repent and become intentional and urgent about sharing Jesus with everyone!

This is a different thought, but I have had it so I will share it.  It hit me that all my neighbors brought all their valuable things and it all fit in my garage.  Let that sink in.  I am rich.  I have a lot.  I have a big home.  My friends have very little.  They do not have worldly possessions like we do.  These are families with mostly nine plus children.  They live by having enough for each day.  I was struck again by the imbalance of it all.  Too often lately my wealth makes me feel sick.  I continue to wrestle.  I will write more on what God has been teaching me about that later, but for now I need to consider my ways.  

So that was our night and days since then that taught us so much and continue to make us cry out to God.  He is the only hope, peace, truth, and Savior.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Made it Home

Let the journey begin. 
The morning we left Emalai woke up with an earache and said it was popping so we were off to the doctor to hear that it was all ok.  On the way the windshield wiper totally broke in the snow store so we couldn't see and had to go get that fix.  It was a bit crazier than we wanted but it is pretty common to have "things" happen when we leave.  So in the stress we chose to know it was attacks and that God was in control.  This is why so many were praying for us!

Stop over in Holland.  We went to Harlem.
 It was really cold but I love seeing history and it's beauty. 

Grandpa & Grandma Beute journeyed with us (they are working on their adpotion of Achia)

Flying over the Alps

Over the Sahara Desert - for a long time!

All tired out!

Our friends picked us up at the airport and helped get all the luggage in - thanks guys!
We felt so loved and welcomed home!

Yes, that says 98degrees!

We are back home in Obule!  Thank you for all your prayers!  It is simply a long journey.  One week after leaving Michigan we drove almost seven hours and arrived home (we stayed a few days in the capital city with our friends - great way to adjust after jet leg).  There are many things I am thankful for and missed while we were in Michigan, but there are also things I really didn't miss and still don't like.  You can quickly forget when you are away.

What did I miss?  I love having the windows open and hearing the sounds of outdoors.  I especially like the sounds of nature at night.  I love the peacefulness of the village.  I like staying home, routine, and a quieter pace of life.  I love being in a community or neighborhood and visiting with my neighbors and friends as they go by, they stop over or we go and visit.  I even missed the local food.

What didn't I miss?  The heat.  It is not warm, it is hot!  Intense heat.  The kind you can't describe.  It hits you and can be overpowering.  Sometimes I feel like I can't breathe.  Can I say it hurts?  I guess it is a mix of the heat and dryness.  I don't know, maybe it is just how I handle heat.  It was 98 degrees in my house when we arrived.  (So, what would that be in the sun?!)  There just any escaping it.  Thankfully we have had relief at night and with clouds that have come in the later afternoons.  I love clouds!  I also did not miss the dirt and feeling dirty.  Everything is dusty and dirty here.  I don't exactly feel beautiful here.  It is also a lot more work to live here.  You have to haul water, conserve water, filter water, make food if you are going to eat, do school with the kids, drive down a terrible road to get to market or a the heat everything is harder too.

The poverty stands out to me again.  The little everyone has, the rags kids wear to play and work in, all they have to do just to have water, the shortage of food, money, and resources.  It punches you in the face compared to all we have, our excess and wealth.   It can make me feel ill.

I am thankful we are welcomed back, people are excited to see us, and we have friends here.  It is hard to see some not growing in Christ, sin, or fall away but I try to remember they are the few among the many.  I also remember I am not responsible.  God is in control and at work and each one of His children is responsible to grow in Him.  Josh met with a former prisoner who is now back home.  He met Jesus in prison and now has a fresh start with his wife and family.  He is a changed man!  Praise the Lord!  It was a very encouraging testimony.

I feel really good about being home but can quickly get overwhelmed and want to do it all and restart it all right away.  I feel out of it with everyone and everything but that too will come with time.

We did start our home school again today...the kids did great, the teacher struggled.  It is hard to start the second semester in a different curriculum with preschool, elementary, middle school and high school.  Praise be to God we got the internet to work and Lydia can do her work!  I struggle to keep up with everyone and I don't really teach.  I just hope everyone understands and learns not just get the work done.  I have to just let today - this week - be messy and give myself and the kids grace until we are back into it.

I just wanted to put a quick "this is how we are doing" update out there.  I feel like it is a jumble of thoughts but at least you know we are alive.  So many of your prayers have been answered and now you also know what else to pray for.