Jebele Ko Family!
That’s a proper greeting from Uganda in the language of Lugandan. We are earnestly learning it as we are now officially Iris Ministries Uganda along with Iris Ministries South Sudan! Never in my wildest imaginations did I ever dream that God would give us two nations! I am still trying to wrap my mind around it and asking Him what it shall look like? Did you know that Uganda is rated by the United Nations as the number one country in refugee hospitality? They take care of all refugees better than any other nation in the entire world! We are seeing it with our very own eyes. Every refugee that registers receives their own plot of land, and some basic survival tools and equipment to start their new life. They truly love the refugee. God will indeed bless them for taking in the refugees.
On New Year’s Day as we fasted and prayed as a family, the Lord gave me the scripture in Isaiah 54:2 where He told Isaiah that the barren woman should not weep because great would be her spiritual children and that God was going to enlarge the place of her tent and for her to hold nothing back, but to lengthen the ropes and strengthen the pegs! This was a word for Israel and it is a word for those now who would take it as God gives it and run with it. I sat in my room on Sunday morning before church and revisited our journey over the last four years, where God has brought us from and I was reminded of that first scripture that our eldest son, Safari, gave us as a word for our family in 2012. It was Exodus 23 beginning in verse 25. The Lord said that if we worship Him then He will bring a blessing on our water and our food and cause all our enemies to turn their backs on us and run the other way. This Sunday He expanded that word for us with verse 31 where He said that HE will establish our borders.
I cannot tell you enough how true God’s Word is today, just as it was yesterday, and just as it will be tomorrow. His Word is alive and always producing for every generation. He tells us in Isaiah 55 that His Word will ALWAYS accomplish what HE desires. ALWAYS means just that, ALWAYS. His Word can only expand. It will never diminish! He constantly reveals Himself and His plans for us through His Word and THAT is something we can hold on to. So many people run to ministers of the Word and ask them what God is saying. I love ministers of the Word. I am a minister of the Word. BUT, when I want a Word from God I go straight to Him and no one else. I want to hear it from His very mouth what He plans for ME. His Word to me is the only Word I hold on to when everything goes crazy. When I hear from God, I know that I know that I know He will deliver. THAT my friends is where I put my faith. We are excited for this new season of two nations. Come on Lord, have Your way!
We are all moved into our new home, although somewhat crowded in a small part of it as the larger part is still being built around us. Right now the mamas and I jokingly call ourselves Camp Luwero because we are still cooking outside under a huge tarp over a wood and charcoal fire, having no kitchen yet. We are washing our dishes in plastic tubs with water that we are carrying daily by the gallons and gallons and gallons from the borehole, which is located literally right next to the pig sty’s. There is a very large piggery, estimate of about 300 pigs, about 50 yards from our compound walls. Needless to say, when the wind shifts in our direction…. And when we have to ALL daily go to the borehole… My arms are once again getting very strong as I only want to make that trip once a day!
All of our kids have started school so that means the alarm goes off at 4:30 a.m. for the cook fires to start and the kids are up too as they have to all take turns getting their cold bucket baths. By 6:00 a.m. they have eaten and we put on our Sudanese gospel music and dance for the next hour as the bus comes in three trips over the next hour and a half to get them all. Then they all start rolling back into the compound after school around 5:00 p.m. As they arrive running and laughing, we remind them to wash their uniforms (by hand), get their bathing water from the borehole and bathe and then after dinner go get more water and study. Needless to say we are ALL very tired by the end of the week! Kids in America have it made, washing machines and moms and running water and kitchen stoves and microwaves and carpools and drive thru’s…
Our kids never ever complain. They don’t know any different and this is just how we roll. We do what needs to get done and they laugh and play around it all most of the time. A new novelty for them has been that we now have six bicycles and they ride them every chance they get. All ages, they LOVE bicycles. We are hoping to get eight more this next week as an elementary class in Florida raised money to buy them for our kids. We are also now in the land of plenty when it comes to food. There is no shortage of food, all kinds, and they are getting back all the fat they lost when we were down to half rations for months as we were stranded in South Sudan. These kids are so resilient and there is no sign of trauma in them. They are happy and free. All of them have to repeat their school grade of last year because all the schools closed as everybody ran from the fighting, yet none complain. They are just happy to be going to school again. I’ve never seen kids so excited to go to school every day!
We are just so thankful to God and to the government of South Sudan and the government of Uganda and all our supporters for helping us in our hours of need. We will never ever get tired of saying thank you. Every single Sunday in church when it is time for testimonies, I stand up and thank God for all of these things. We are so blessed, even though we have so little materialistically compared to those who live in America and Europe and places like this. Yet we feel we have so much more because we have the most important thing, relationship with each other and relationship with Jesus, and the time to enjoy it all!
Our prayer for you this week is that you would have the time to enjoy each other and the time to enjoy Jesus. It is everything and so much more. Everything else pales in comparison. Never let time get away from you and each other! Let Sunday church services run on for hours. Don’t look at your watches. Enjoy every moment. God will be glorified in His church, AS we fellowship together, and often. God bless you and may He continue to shine His face upon you and keep you in perfect peace.
Tomorrow I will board a plane for Holland where I will enjoy my friends and the church there in Rilland. Then on 17 February I arrive in Texas where I will be based out of for the next six weeks. I have an extensive traveling schedule and might possibly find myself in your neck of the woods. You can keep up with me on our Iris South Sudan website at http://www.irissouthsudan.org and check my itinerary. I can’t go everywhere but where I go I would love to meet and greet you and pray with you and thank you!