Saturday, August 29, 2015

God is Responding

This has been a busy week. On Tuesday we left Kampala, Uganda and travelled about 8 hours by car to Arua, Uganda. Will, Justin and Shawn then left on Wednesday to travel into Mundri and returned to Arua Friday. We are now on our journey back to Kampala from Arua.

Going back into Mundri is something we have longed for since we evacuated in March. We have been praying consistently that God would provide a time for us to return to Mundri. We had hoped there would be an opportunity to return fully and resume our work there. However, due to the ongoing war, we soon realized that would not be a reality for right now. So, our prayers were then focused on returning for a short visit in order to greet our friends, bring in some aide and get some of out personal belongings that we had to leave behind.

While they men were in Mundri this week, I had the opportunity to spend time with Rachel, an American missionary in Arua. Rachel was very kind to allow me to spend time with her children and go into town with her. On Thursday we went to the local hospital together to visit the husband of one of Rachel’s friends. His name is Charles. Charles was in the hospital with what the doctors called a “spoiled lung”. We couldn’t figure out exactly what that meant, but he looked extremely weak and was laying in a position that he seemingly had not moved from in a long time. Rachel told Charles that she and her family had been praying for him daily for several weeks. They were praying that God would heal him and give him strength. Charles’ face light up and he replied with, “God is responding!”

God is responding. What a great truth! I love this line because it is active. It is in the present tense and implies, “He is doing it right now. I believe in faith that your prayers are coming to fruition!” I knew immediately when Charles said this that He was feeling better than when he first arrived at the hospital and He knew it was God who was healing his body. He knew where the strength and health was coming from.

As I think about our situation right now, I’m grateful that God is responding. Actively. Right now.

Will with my language helper, Mary
in Mundri
He knew our desires to return to Mundri and He provided a way to do so. We have been praying for God to provide for the needs of our friends and encourage them and I believe He did that during this visit as well. Our friends were reminded they are not forgotten and God loves them. God provided aide money for us to bring in for the Diocese, which will provide for the needs of the people as well (thank you to all of you who donated to this fund and helped provide in this way!!).

My good friend, Railie with
her daughter Rebecca. Will
got to visit them while in
God doesn’t always answer our prayers the way we think He will or the way we would prefer for Him to. It sometimes seems to take longer than expected and we often have to endure pain in the meantime. However, I pray we are people who expectantly look for the ways God is responding to our prayers. I pray we would rejoice when longings become met, wounds become healed and needs provided for. However, I also pray we would be people who can praise God for responding to our prayers even when we are still laying on a hospital bed- believing in faith that a full recovery is coming and rejoicing in the small milestones in the meantime.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Mama Penina

God has continued to amaze me this year with the incredible people He has put in our path. Everywhere we have gone during this evacuation period, God has placed people in front of us who are compassionate, loving and devoted to His call. 

The person we have been amazed with most recently is Mama Penina. Mama Penina is from Mundri, but is currently living in Arua. She has lived in Arua since 1997 and moved there to get away from the war in South Sudan. Her husband is a pastor in Mundri and moved Penina and her children to Arua to make sure they would be safe. 
Mama Penina and I after Moru church last week
Mama Penina helped start the Moru church, which still gathers in Arua each Sunday. This church was started so that the Moru people who had fled South Sudan, could have a place to worship together. Penina is the leader of the Mother's Union and also leads the church service each week. 

What amazed me about Mama Penina is her huge heart for her people. Her passion to bring people together to worship the Lord is incredible. She works very hard renting a space, organizing people to preach and caring for the people in the community. 

When we were in Arua last week, she had us to her house to welcome us. She and some other women from the church cooked us a HUGE Moru meal. She invited the male youth over to share the meal with us and we spent hours eating and conversing together.  The food was delicious and the company was great! 

Will and I with our new Moru friends at Mama Penina's house
We were so excited to hear about Mama Penina's heart for her people and desire to see the Word of God preached to the Moru people in Arua. Her love for Christ is extremely evident and despite all the opposition in her life, she does everything with joy and passion. Spending time with people like Penina always reminds me of God's love and care for His people. God is so evident through her and is doing amazing things to love the Moru people in Arua through Penina. We are looking forward to getting to know her and the others in the community better. 

Please join us in praying for Mama Penina and the Moru church in Arua. Pray that God would continue to provide for them as they seek to glorify Him. Pray that they would know the Word of God and be encouraged by His love for them. Pray that Penina would have endurance to continue to lead the church with strength and love. 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Relief for Mundri

Many of you have asked what ways you could help the Mundri community in the aftermath of the violence that took place in May. After much thought and conversation with Bishop Bismark we believe the best way to support the local community is through the local church. In light of this, we are raising money to support the local diocese in two ways: monthly operating costs and relief.

Part of the Serge mission in South Sudan is to empower the local church to be the hands and feet of Christ in their own community and the recent fighting has created roadblocks. A major one is finance.

Many people returned to looted homes after the violence in May. Friends had literally everything they owned stolen. Shops were looted leaving local businesses without a means of making money. These things have led to a significant decrease in the amount of money being tithed in local churches, which a portion of goes towards monthly operating costs of the diocese. Due to this, there is a large budget shortfall for the diocese.

 Another portion of the money would be earmarked for relief efforts of the diocese. We believe Bishop Bismark and his team know what the community needs most and we want to empower them to meet those needs. The money for relief would be used at their discretion for the things they see as most pressing in the community.

Serge South Sudan has a “Community Blessing Fund”. We use this fund as a tool to raise money for special projects and opportunities that arise in the community outside of our normal ministry funding categories. The goal is to bless the entire community, not just one person or family.

Would you pray about making a donation to the “Community Blessing Fund”?

We are seeking to raise $6,000. The money would be spent in the following ways:
1. Help operating costs of the diocese for 6 months = $600/month; $3600 total
2. Relief to be used at the discretion of the diocese = $2400 total

Any money raised above our goal will stay in the “Community Blessing Fund” to be used as needed for other projects or issues that arise in the community.

All money given to this account will be used for blessing the Mundri community. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask. Thank you for your continued support of the Serge South Sudan team and the Mundri community.

Blessings, Serge South Sudan Team

To give online, please go to:

To give by check, please make checks out to “Serge” and include the designation number: 19220. Please mail to:
Serge Donations Processing Center
PO Box 1244
Albert Lea, MN 56007-1244

Let us know if you have any questions.

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Familiar

With all of our traveling and adjustments this past year, I have found myself clinging to things that feel familiar. They have been like a breath of fresh air to me as everything else has seemed so new and different.

We arrived in Arua, Uganda on Saturday. We are here to see if this would be a good place to set up a temporary ministry site. Part of what drew us to come and explore Arua was that we heard they have a Moru church here and a good amount of Moru people who have fled from South Sudan. Since this is the people group we work with in Mundri, we thought this could be a great opportunity for us to continue to work on language in hopes of returning to Mundri again in the future.

We had the privilege of attending the Moru service yesterday and it was so... familiar. It felt like going back home to Mundri! It was familiar to greet everyone in Moru and see huge smiles cross their faces (which showed me they could actually understand my Moru.. always a win!). It was wonderful to hear songs sung in Moru that we used to hear every week in Mundri. It was a blessing to see young Moru children and be able to ask their names and understand the names when they responded (that one took me a while when we were in Mundri!).

Children preforming a song at the
Moru church service
What amazed me the most about the service was the joy. There was so much joy in the room! Now, you have to understand that everyone at the service calls South Sudan home. They are only in Arua because of war. After wondering why there were so many women in the service and so few men, we learned that most of the men stayed in South Sudan to work/ protect their homes and farms. They sent the women and children to Arua for safety. Most of them live off very little money and probably in houses that do not feel like "home". In the message, the preacher talked about their great suffering and how little they have. And yet, there was such great joy! The resiliency of the Moru people amazes me.

The familiarity of attending this service reminded me of how grateful I am that God allowed us to work with the Moru people. I always tell people that the only thing that draws me to want to go back to Mundri is the people. The place is difficult, at best. But the people, they make it completely worth it. Having the opportunity to be around Moru people again brought all of those realizations back to the surface. They are incredible. God has given them an amazing ability to bounce back from things that most people would buckle under. They know how to make due with very little- and be thankful for it!

So this week I'm thankful for the familiar. I'm grateful for the opportunity to be around Moru people again and see their joy and resiliency up-close. It's a joy to feel at home again and I'm looking forward to seeing them all again next Sunday.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

New Transition

Will, Justin and I arrived in Kampala, Uganda on Monday. We will be traveling to a couple different places in Uganda over the next couple months to try and set up a temporary ministry site until it is safe to return to Mundri. The hope is to find a site where we can continue to work with South Sudanese people to build relationships/ work on language.

As we have begun this next transition, many people have asked if we are excited. To be totally honest, excitement is not even close to the top of my emotions right now. This will be our third east African country to LIVE in this year. That is not what we expected when we signed up to move to South Sudan last year.

However, just because my heart is not excited about another transition, does not mean it is not willing. Although we signed up to work with Serge in South Sudan, what we really signed up for was to follow God where He sent us. We thought that was South Sudan... and it was for a time (and hopefully still is long term). But due to war and instability, we can't be there right now. I am finally coming to realize that is okay. Don't get me wrong, I long to be in the Mundri market sipping (wayyy too hot) tea and eating mandazi while giggling with my friends at my butchered Moru attempts and laughing at the fact that my tongue cannot make the same sounds as theirs can- no matter how hard I seem to try. But more than this desire to be with my friends in Mundri, is my heart's cry to follow God where He sends.

And right now, He is directing us to Uganda.

So in Uganda we are. Ready vessels. Not sure at all about what the future will hold for us here. Not sure at all about if this will be a 5 month stop or a 4 year solution. We have no idea. But we do know that we serve a faithful God. We know He is not leading us astray and that He loves to use His willing children.

Romans 15:13 says, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."

As we are facing this new transition, I am encouraged by this verse because it does not say, "Muster up hope and joy by your own strength". Instead it says, "you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit". The Holy Spirit provides hope. As we chose to trust in Him, He provides us with hope and joy. How beautiful is that?

So, am I excited to be in Uganda right now with a long list of un-answered questions and an unclear future? No. However, I am excited to know we are right where God is calling us at the moment. Because of that, I am excited for the future. Knowing God will show up and will guide and direct us- in His timing.