Sept. 12, 2016
“ASHALON! ASHALON! EH! You have returned! Welcome home!”
Such sweet words I have heard time and again since hopping out of the truck in Bundibugyo on Friday afternoon. Such unforeseen moments of grace in ministering to my weary heart. I am home, indeed.
I made it to district just in time for weekly team meeting, which happens every Friday afternoon. Following team meeting is always pizza night! We rotate responsibilities for making enough dough and sauce, gathering all the toppings, and working the brick oven. It’s one of my most favorite team traditions. This particular Friday had jet lag running through it from start to finish, but teammates made sure I made it where I was supposed to be and fed me along the way. It takes a village, people.
Saturday was spent touring the mission property. Most of it hadn’t changed much, but there were definitely some key additions since 2014 — the biggest being the construction of the new Apprentice housing complex!
I remember rumblings of this project happening “sometime in the future” last time I was here… So it was 100% surreal to see them in person. The Lord has provided abundantly in making this a reality! It will provide so many opportunities to house visitors and short-term teams from all over. It also welcomes more space to host local friends and family and build genuine relationships with our neighbors here.
The Apprentice housing is set to be completed in October, so I’m currently bunking with team leaders Josh and Anna Dickenson. They have some gracious spirits, people…. because I know I didn’t necessarily travel lightly. Best news: their precious 6-month-old Daniel and I have become fast friends.
Sunday morning was a sweet reunion with Bundimulinga Presbyterian Church in Uganda, which I had frequented during my last time here (if I didn’t join the students at Christ School for their Sunday morning service.) Many local friends have called Bundimulinga home for years, so it was a morning of smiles and greetings and hugs and welcoming. I did unintentionally put my offering in the bucket designated for the men instead of the one for the women….. But, I mean. Could always be worse. Especially with me.
I think the coolest and most humbling moment so far has been seeing and holding the New Testament translated into the local language of Lubwisi — a project that’s been in the works for decades, pulling in the dedicated hearts and minds of Americans and Ugandans alike to make known the truth of Jesus while instilling dignity to the local language and culture. This has been prayed over for many years, and the result is still crazy for me to wrap my head around. Look at it!
I now get to walk around with my own Bible and a New Testament in Lubwisi. No more limiting the ability to read scripture to those who can read and speak English. This is their own heart language. All hungry souls can now be fed. That’s a cool thing, folks.
And today was spent reacquainting myself with Nyahuka village and surrounding areas. I can count at least three instances where people have recognized me before I even saw them, and came running as soon as they realized I was back. The love and excitement I’ve experienced from my Ugandan friends and family have been the biggest gifts so far. The absolute best. With each reunion, I’ve been reminded that Jesus left his home.. his heavenly throne.. and willingly entered into our mess, and he did so with abundant humility, grace, and unmatched love. I’m convinced it’s the only way to do this cross-cultural life. Jesus, guide my steps.
The people of Bundibugyo have extended so much grace in welcoming me back here. In some ways, it’s been a lot like riding a bike. Some things I can never really forget once I learn, and the familiarity has helped me in this adjustment tremendously. But there’s also so much newness and change that I haven’t been part of, which is to be expected, but it also has humbled me in all the best ways. Please pray for these people and for me as I strive to show love and humility amidst my wobbliness. I’m by no means here to be perfect, and I thank Jesus for that.
On Wednesday, our team will head to Fort Portal (about a 1.5-2 hour drive from here) for our annual vision retreat. We’ll spend four days praying and thinking through what this next year of ministry will look like: How can we all serve more intentionally within our areas of service? How can we grow to meet even more needs than we’re already striving to meet? How can we better connect people back to the local church? How can we partner with the local community to create sustainability? As Team Leader Josh has said many times, our goal is to work ourselves out of our jobs. Serge is unique in that way – we strategize ways to spread the gospel of Christ through living as he lived, which means entering into this place fully and intentionally, living on mission with humility and grace to serve the people of Bundibugyo through skill sets and relationships. All the while pointing to Jesus and maintaining the integrity of this beautiful culture and people group.
This is never done quickly or without mistake. Would you pray for us as we enter this retreat? That the Holy Spirit would clearly guide discussion and prayer for each of our ministries, that the team would use this time to grow closer together during this season of transition, and that we’d all remember why we’re here in the first place.
Thank you guys so, so, so, so much for your constant messages of encouragement and support. Officially one week in! I’m tempted to hit the ground running, but I have a history of assuming too much too quickly. I’m totally a recovering perfectionist, and I’m totally learning the art of balance in this craziness. Phew.
Sorry for the novel. 🙂 All my love to each of you.