Friday, March 16, 2012

"Celebrate Purity 2012"

 as i've been promising, here is an update on what our ministry-focus is right now.  of course, we continue with our other ministry responsibilities each week, but this upcoming event certainly has most of our time, energy, and attention at the moment!  we are so excited about the momentum and favor God is already blessing us with as we get ready.  i'm copying an email that we sent out to our support network earlier... 

The reason for this update is actually to inform everyone in our support network about our upcoming purity events.  During our season as youth pastors in Jackson, we found purity events to be powerful tools for discipleship.  Many teenagers (even those raised in church) easily find themselves confused, frustrated, and ashamed in the realm of sexual purity.  Sensual media, pornography, peer pressure, broken homes, and loneliness have made the battle for purity very intense in this generation.  Teenagers in Uganda are no exception.  It only makes the battle more difficult when you do not live with a biological family.  When we first mentioned the concept of purity events to our pastoral leadership they eagerly requested that we organize purity events for our Watoto villages as soon as possible. 
We are excited to inform you that on April 13-14 and 20-21 Watoto Villages Suubi and Bbira will experience their very first sexual purity events entitled “Celebrate Purity.”  Our dear friends (and long-time ministry partners) Hugh and Lisa Dear are actually coming over from the US to help make these events happen.  On Suubi Village, where we live, there are 500 teenagers.  Bbira has about 400.  The purity event involves dynamic teaching sessions about our sexual identity,  God’s plan for sex and marriage, living free from addictions and destructive habits, and scripture’s high calling of purity.  These events will end with formal ceremonies where students publically declare a vow of purity, sign a purity covenant, and receive a ring as a symbol of their decision. 

 People here are super excited about these events and our goal is for them to be the best discipleship events ever hosted on our Watoto villages.  We are asking our friends and partners to be in prayer for these events.  Many people in Africa have heard of abstinence, but few understand purity.  We are asking God for open hearts and open minds.  We are also asking you to consider making a special financial gift towards this event to help us with the burden.  We have already committed to spending thousands of dollars on this event (rings, books, prizes, t-shirts, food, etc) but we want to give you the opportunity to join us in the grace of giving.  Many of you already understand how financial contributions to our ministry operate.  You can simply send a check to Northside Assembly of God, 27 Oil Well Rd, Jackson TN  38305 and write  “Uganda-Purity Event” on the memo line.  We thank you in advance for your partnership.  Please know that we don't take it with light appreciation.  Every month, Northside Assemble sends us a contribution report for our account, and each month we are left speechless with  gratitude.  It is truly a privilege to be your hands extended to the least of these in East Africa.

 here's our lively team of youth workers who help us make discipleship happen every week

they are already wearing their purity rings (since they are all single) 
and proudly declaring their commitments!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

pot holes and potty chairs

... these are some the glamorous things occupying my mind lately.  i feel like i should have written at least 6 posts since my last one, because life has been so interesting.  but, as you see, i haven't been that industrious.  i think i will spare words and just post lots of pictures, as i attempt a whirlwind update.

BIG NEWS!!! - we have a vehicle now!  (a Toyota Liteace Noah) it arrived last month (ordered from Japan), and our life immediately changed for the better.  now comes the exciting adventure of learning to drive here... thus my new appreciation of pot holes.  i've discovered there is an art to assessing a pot hole as it is approached in a moving vehicle.  one must be able to quickly judge it's depth and determine the speed with which to "take it."  or if it is so enormous that it must be avoided all together... then there are other factors to consider such as  - is the on-coming vehicle also swerving to miss a pot hole on HIS side of the road, or will the boda driver behind me take this opportunity to pass me ?? (never mind that we are going up a steep hill - that is the most tantalizing time to pass!) 

we took this pic earlier today.  you can see the thick layer of dirt on the van -courtesy of dry season- and the impending rain clouds in the background.  the rain came shortly after this, and it has been a cold, hard, steady rain all evening.  March has officially brought us the end of the dry season.  as everybody back home posts comments about spring time, i am still trying to get a grasp of the "seasons" here on the equator.

speaking of equator, we finally did the tourist thing and went to visit it a couple of weeks ago.  we live only about 30 mi from the equator, so taking a short trip there seemed a good way to celebrate having our own wheels.

other things we have celebrated - our little Reynah is now 2!  we are in the throes of potty-training.  the cost of diapers here make me very motivated to get her out of them.  we're making good progress... though i still breathe a grateful sigh at some point each day that all our floors are concrete.

she is such a delight - truly life personified.  she hangs tough with her big brothers, joining in every wrestling match and demanding to also hold every gecko and grasshopper that they catch.  but she loves her baby doll and "peeety dresses."  she really is a mix of sugar and spice, and we all love her to pieces!

we also celebrated a very special accomplishment with Josiah and Judah last week.  they both completed reading their "Bible" - the same illustrated Bible that i spoke of in an earlier post, which we gave to all the Watoto moms.  this was something we challenged them to do on their own, and they completely devoted themselves to it!  i can't say how proud we are of them.  we've watched their little seedlings of faith grow stronger and rooted in the last few months.  many mornings i've seen them sit down with their Bibles, without being prompted, in those minutes between breakfast and "school-time."  and many times, they have convicted ME, when i was rushing into my day without pausing for any quiet time.  of course, have no illusions... they are little boys, full of plenty of mischief and ruckus... but they do make us proud.

 so, we rewarded them with a special dinner at a restaurant in Kampala, where they could eat a very boast-worthy meal of wild game meat.  because, you know, these kind of bragging rights are quite important when you are 6 and 8.  ok, well... judging from the crazy things their Daddy has ate, these bragging rights are important to a boy at any age! 

Judah enjoyed a meal of Wildebeest, Blesbok, and Springbok.

Josiah ordered the dish called "Hunter's Pot" - surprise, surprise.  it was similar to Judah's with some Kudu and Impala thrown in. 

Reynah didn't really want to eat; she just wanted to chase the bunnies

we wrote each of the boys letters, telling them the reasons we are proud of them and all the ways we notice them growing up.  

all in all, i think it was an affirming and memorable day for them.  

then, i could write a whole separate blog about mine and Rey's trip home... and post another 20 pictures!  it was just wonderful to be with family, and, even though it was crazy busy, and i didn't get to see everyone i wanted to - i enjoyed every minute of it!   the wedding was beautiful and the bride even more so.  ok... i won't post 20, but here are a few, because you must see to agree with me...

 i'm sure at this point you may be "pictured out"  - but i did warn you! :)  hopefully, now you feel a bit updated on our family life.  i'll try to blog again soon and update you on ministry-life.  now, it is after midnight here... and my bed is calling.  there is nothing like going to sleep with rain on a tin roof!  ~good night~