August 4 we remembered 20 years since we left for the mission field. Although we don't celebrate that very hard day, we do celebrate the 20 years of ministry in Africa! Most of our pictures are on our computer in Uganda, but I still wanted to share of few memories.
We were 23 and 22 years old and married 2 years when we left for Nigeria - not just Nigeria but to an unreached people group in a remote village in Northwest Nigeria! It was straight out of National Geographic. I never cried so much in my life. It was total isolation. No cell phones, no telephone, and no internet. Just two-way radio each morning. My kids call it "real missionaries". The lessons I learned in the village of Mahula I will take with me the rest of my life. I experienced God in Mahula. I was desperate for Him and TOTALLY dependent on Him for the first time in my life, and God met me in my need. It was the hardest time in my life and the greatest blessings in my life. Funny how they go together. I remember wanting to scream when I hated it, "Why me?!" and humbly saying, "Why me?" when I got to see God at work and people coming to Christ.
I will never forget riding on the back of motorcycle with Josh, crossing dry river beds, being stuck because of overflowing rivers, 15ft high guinea corn lining foot paths, the women carrying water pots on their shoulders, Josh violently sick too often, the children who loved Lydia, the women who became my friends even though I felt deaf and mute, baby Moses who we cared for to Jesus arms, snakes and scorpions, the baptism of the first believers in Mahula, brightly dressed Fulani, camels plowing the fields, the dancing, the stars, the deaths, the darkness of never hearing of Jesus and the worship of spirits, God's protection, the church the believers built, the relationships we made, becoming a mom in Mahula, Josh's teaching, Josh's sweating, and his love for the people and ministry, Josh's love for me as we said goodbye to Mahula... Brings tears to my eyes.
Then Uganda...our home. I learned beginnings are always hard. Living on the mission field has always been difficult for me. It was like I became someone I didn't like there. It was hard and I didn't like it. I didn't like myself. I was too often grumpy, crabby, frustrated...yuck! Then I realized it was a spiritual battle and began to pray and seek God for peace. At the same time Josh was learning about authority and practicing the authority he had in Christ as the head of our family. As we both prayed the enemy was defeated. I never thought I would thrive on the mission field, just survive. I never thought it possible to have family and true friends with the people I came to serve. But now I know thriving is possible and my family and dear friends are in Uganda. Thank you God!!!
Some of the memories of 14 years in Uganda are: moving there in 2007 with Sliedrecht and our two small daughters (Lydia 3 and Grace 1), sharing a duplex with Sliedrechts in Soroti, working with the blind, a miscarriage, Luka's sickness, medical evacuation, ICU in Kenya and God's healing, teammates and many holidays together, Calvin Christian High School trips, God's work in the church in Obule, moving to Obule, homeschooling and many teachers who helped, trips to the capital, to the Nile river, safaris, Kenya, South Africa, church outreach and crusades, youth group and worshiping on New Years Eve together, dear missionary friends, family visits, FIC soccer cup in the prison, FIC marriage conference, my parents adopting in Uganda, death of dear friends, Freedom in Christ in Uganda...
There is too much to write and each one has a lot of emotions behind it. I am so thankful I am a missionary and have lived in Africa for 20 years. I love that my kids have been raised there and call it home. I love our church, our village, home, Ugandan ministry partners, the youth we work with, the prisoners we serve with... To God be all the glory for all He has done - in me, through me, in His people and for His kingdom! May this 20 years just be the start...
|Our first prayer card|
|First Prayer Letter from Nigeria|
|Mahula Christmas 2003 with baby Lydia|
Josh literacy teaching with baby Lydia
|New Year week long party in Mahula. The Avadi people are so beautiful!|
(So, I don't have my pictures from 2007 to 2012...if I get my hands on them I'll be adding more pictures!)
|2013 Prayer Card|
|First time to see baby Emalai 2013|
|Building our house in Obule|
|Moved to Obule Dec. 2013|
|Our Homeschool - Africa Adventure Christian Academy - so fun!|
|Josh teaching with Freedom in Christ teachers.|
|One of many FIC Graduations|
|FIC prison ministry|
|UCFM church choir|
|UCFM Our Church Family|
|FIC Teachers Marriage Conference|
|FIC Graduation in the prison|
|Saturday Youth Group|
|FIC Christmas Party 2019|
|Outreach and Crusade|
|Youth choir and dance|
|Youth Group Christmas Party 2019|
|Emalai's friends brought her flowers for her birthday.|
|FIC Crusade in the Prison|
|Lydia and Grace in a wedding with their friends|