Already, in the two short weeks of this year, we have seen some encouragingly concrete examples of this story at work. Doors opening and closing in a holy pattern, generous provisions arriving from nowhere. Let me give a few examples.
* CSB, like all schools in Uganda, has struggled maintain low enough fees to reach our target of educating the poor . . . and yet pay enough to attract qualified teachers, and nourish the students with enough calories to support learning. Over the years the gap between income and cost has grown, to the point that the Pierces and we were wondering if God was trying to tell us to do something radical. But in the last week we got news of some amazing 11th hour provisions. The mission and a donor church have come alongside us in generous ways. We are extremely grateful.
* I discharged two kids today who could have easily died. Peter John's picture was on the blog in December, needing prayer, an orphaned toddler with AIDS, malnutrition, and a very stressed teenage sister as his caretaker. By God's power his body is healing, he gained more than 5 pounds (!, almost a 50% increase in weight), his sister rose to the occasion, he's smiling and walking and inexplicably whole looking. The other was Masika Immaculate, who came six months ago as the most scabby, pus-filled newborn infant I've ever seen, also born to a teenage mother with AIDS, it was impossible to imagine someone so frail and tiny overcoming so much infection. Yet she was back this week for a minor problem, smooth-skinned and smiling, and tested negative for HIV. Amazing. God's work.
* We are finally having a several-times-delayed team planning retreat this week. The nicest tented safari camp around, located only a couple of hours from us, improbably agreed to allow us to stay there for four nights at less than a quarter of the usual rate. Two gifted and caring WHM counselors, Donovan Graham for the adults and Bethany Ferguson for the kids, were able to free up their schedules to come and minister to us as we plan and meet. Donovan will stay on longer to focus on CSB needs, too. That time could have been blindsided by competing needs, but those potentialities did not materialize, which we trust was again a provision from God. And lastly after two months of a waiting list for a flight to get them in on Friday (I checked every week or two but no flight was available with either of the two mission organizations that fly), yesterday MAF contacted us to ask if we wanted a flight on Friday. God's care.
* Pat was feeling pretty overwhelmed just after the new year, and we asked how we could pray. "I would like to see the road graded from the airstrip to Nyahuka" she said. It may sound trivial, but jolting over deep and dangerous ruts and potholes every day wears a person out, not to mention their vehicle. OK, we thought, we'll ask God . . and can you believe that the grader suddenly appeared and graded that very stretch of road? Which has not happened in months if not years?
* Our Kwejuna Project Food distribution money for 2008 was generously provided by friends of Pamela. With economic crisis in the US, and Pamela no longer on the field, we had every reason to believe that this would not continue in 2009. But this past week we got the amazing good news that another 25 thousand dollars would be available to augment the diets of HIV positive women and babies. Amazing.
* After five months of delay (politics and problems), Dr. L finally moved to Nyahuka to take up his post at Nyahuka Health Center this week. We had a staff meeting on Monday which welcomed him. Before the meeting he told me that he had finally managed to set up an account for the health center in order to get the proper funds which the government has promised, since only 2 months out of 12 in 2008 were disbursed, but so far no money had come into it. I tried to contact the chief administrative officer, but he was unavailable. Hmmm. In the meeting I told the story of 2 Chronicles 20, and challenged all the staff to pray against corruption this year. We are powerless to know hearts and to remove those who steal, but God can do it. The next morning I got two messages on my phone from the officer in charge, promising full return of all missing money for 2008 and asking us to keep praying and trust him to make progress in 2009. We will see what happens, but a good start.
* Acacia Masso was able to get a good ride in and out of Bundibugyo so she could stay with our family for a week--God's idea, not mine, and a clear blessing. She has been a delight.
* After a year of pruning in 08, our team is ready to sprout out a bit in 09. We prayed at the New Year for out top needs (education family to partner with Pierces, medical family to partner with us, interim team leader to care for team during our upcoming HMA time in 2010, and more 2-year teachers to teach missionary kids). This week we have a potentially interested family visiting, we have another family thinking of the summer, and a handful of others who are emailing. All this is quite sudden though we've had the need out on the WHM radar for months. God is moving.
God has allowed us, as we have looked to Him, to see these ways He is fighting for us. We are going away together from Friday to Tuesday, and asking that God continue to allow us to see His providing presence, His powerful work. Please join us in praying that God would lead, would say to us as He did to the people of Israel: "Stand still and see the salvation of the LORD, who is with you". We are praying that our diversity of gifts and experience would lead to creative and lively discussion, and that we would emerge with a clear sense of God's direction. You readers are part of this process, so please consider fasting and praying to seek the LORD with us (v. 3 and 4). Then you will sense the truth of the testimony of v. 21: His mercy endures forever. Let us walk together into the valley of wilderness until God renames Bundibugyo the valley of BLESSING.