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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Ebola in Uganda...again

The Ugandan Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization confirmed yesterday that another epidemic of Ebola virus has broken out in western Uganda.  This time the virus has emerged in Kibaale District just south of Fort Portal (separated from Bundibugyo District by the Rwenzori mountain range).

According to news reports,
there have been 20 cases and 14 deaths...a 70% mortality rate.

Pray that this would be brought under control...

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Assaults and a Mom's heart

Today Caleb's squadron ran through the assault course.  I'm not 100% sure the picture below is him, but it shows you a bit of what he's up against.  They crawl through mud, over obstacles, run, get yelled at, have to hit things with their gun, then they have to actually fight each other (with a lot of padding).  The blog about this rates the various courses on a scale of 1 to 10 for "fun" and while there are some in the 4-8 range this one gets a negative 50.
But someone has to do this stuff, as evidenced by the tragic happenings only a hundred km away in a Denver suburb.  Evil grabs hold of people, and they do evil things that hurt others, and we're better off with someone like Caleb holding the line.  I was thinking of how much he's like his dad, who always does the hard stuff even when it costs him a lot, because it's the right thing to do.

Getting up at 4:30 to 4:45 am daily, running miles, uncountable pushups, all while being verbally abused 24/7 takes its toll.  When we scroll through pictures looking for Caleb, he usually looks just as beat as everyone else.  I was praying today for him to find a moment of friendship in the muck, and maybe even see a smile.  Here is my answer to prayer tonight!
Meanwhile Luke is just back from a week-long journey by hitched rides, matatus, buses, rafts, and foot (over the mountains) to visit his old home in Bundibugyo with his friend Stephen Congdon.  That's his story to tell and I hope he does (hint hint).  But my mom-heart was very happy to hear HIS joy in sitting in the familiar setting of a neighbor's small tin-roofed home as the rain drummed down, eating the African food he misses, reconnecting with the only people in the world who have seen him grow day by day and known him consistently since infancy.  As I pray and reflect on our life, the cost to our kids sobers me.  They are different than I am in fundamental ways because of their childhood.  A lot of that is good:  courage to do the hard things like Caleb, feeling very much at home in places of poverty and isolation like Luke.  But a lot of their life is hard too, and I am grateful for the many prayers that continue to uphold them.

Monday, July 16, 2012


Today Caleb marched out to "Jack's Valley", for phase two of the Basic Cadet Training boot camp.  Here the squadrons will pitch their tents to camp and be run through endless obstacle-course type drills.  Scaling walls, crawling through mud, climbing ropes, firing weapons, learning first aid, running, and practicing war maneuvers.  They have been told this second half will be much more physically demanding than the first half, which is saying something.  Caleb lost three pounds the first week from his already minimal frame, and got put on three-times-a-day calorie supplement drinks.  We got to talk to him on Sunday (OH JOY) and he sounds OK.  It is certainly no fun to be awoken at 4:30 every morning, yelled at all day long, always at attention, always on edge, doing uncountable push-ups til your hands start to blister, and constantly pushed to the limit.  But he believes he is doing the right thing, and that means a lot.  Please do pray for him.  And ask God to bless the Stuarts, his sponsor family.  For "Doolie Day out" the one day all summer they can leave the Academy and talk on the phone and eat in peace, they picked him up and took him to church and grilled him a steak and prayed for him and let him use their phone for hours.  They are saints.  I have the image of Caleb out in the ocean, working hard to stay afloat, and the sponsors are lifeguards who pull him to shore and give him rest and nourishment so he can jump in again. 

All of the abusive sleep-deprived treatment is easier to understand with some context, and for that I am thankful for this book:

It tells the story of an Olympic runner turned  Air Force bomber in WWII.  He and his pilot and a crew of ten slammed into the Pacific on a search and rescue mission for another downed plane (the number of men lost to accidents in that war is chilling).  Only two survive and drift 2000 miles over almost 40 days on a life raft circled by sharks until they are captured as they land on a Japanese-occupied island.  The following two years of POW camps involve unimaginable physical torture and starvation.  About 1% of German POW's died, but over 30% of Japanese POW's died.  The book advertises "redemption" which is one of my key book criteria. . . if you read it, stick with it to the final chapters.

The experience of Air Force pilots and their crew members as POW's I believe informs much of what takes place in BCT.  They want to weed out anyone who will quit when the going gets tough.

For all of us, faith means hanging on in very hard times, and we are made more Christ-like through suffering.  Caleb is getting a lifetime's worth of this in a few weeks, so pray for him to keep his eyes on the goal and stay strong.

Recruiting for Uganda

Is God calling you to serve in Uganda? WHM Bundibugyo in Uganda is now recruiting for the following teammates:

To begin September 2012:

1. Three month intern for children (female): preschool for RMS, lead afternoon Good News Clubs in community, lead CSB chapel group, assist in team life; Needed- a patient and compassionate heart for loving and teaching little ones about Jesus

2. Three to six month intern (male): assist in community outreach and mission maintenance; Needed- a willingness to jump into life and help out with a positive attitude!

For January to May 2013:
1. Medical Professional (MD, DO, NP, PA) to work alongside WHM doctor in the local health center; Needed- diagnostic skills, compassion, and willingness to serve the poorest of the poor

To begin June 2013
1. Teacher for Rwenzori Mission School: 2 year commitment to co-teach 8 mission children; secondary ministry in the local community

2. Missionary Apprentice for Children's Outreach: 2 year commitment to assist in pre-school for mission children, teach afternoon Good News Clubs to community children, and to assist in other outreaches to children/youth in the community

3. Male Missionary Apprentice: 2 year commitment to serve in mission maintenance and in outreach to community through sports, music, writing, and/or leading Bible studies with male youth.

4. Christ School Bundibugyo Program Assistant: 2 year commitment to assist program development at CSB including orphan sponsorship program, discipleship program, and stateside relations.

For further information, contact WHM Bundi Team Leaders Travis and Amy Johnson or WHM East Africa Recruiter Matt Allison

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Old faces and a new face

The weekend prior to the graduation ceremonies of the Rift Valley Academy heralds an annual pilgrimage back to the old stomping grounds for many RVA alumni.  Luke endured an all-night bus ride (Thursday night) from his Mombasa Swahili Program in order to attend "RVA Alumni Weekend 2012".  Customarily, the weekend centers around the class which graduated two years prior.  This year, the Class of 2010 (Luke's class) was the center of attention.  The schedule masters of RVA manage to fill four days with "alumni-v-varsity" games of every variety for both genders (soccer, volleyball, basketball, field hockey, and rugby) as well as other social dinners and teas.

Luke played for the Alumni in the big football (read: soccer) game.  Evenly matched, the teams traded goals and the game ended in a 2-2 draw.  However, rather than leaving the result as a gentlemanly draw, it was considered a Championship Match, which demanded winner.  So, like the recent Euro2012, five players stepped forward to take Penalty Kicks, Luke among the brave volunteers.  Who would claim the Thrill of Victory and who get stuck with the Agony of Defeat.  Alas, despite the fact that Luke made his penalty kick in glorious style, ricocheting off the underside of the crossbar into the rear of the net…the RVA Varsity prevailed.  Had Caleb been around, I probably would have been pulling for the Varsity, but since he wasn't, I, too, shared the Agony of Defeat with Luke's Alumni.  Of course, it could have easily been argued that the final was "fun-to-fun." 

We also hosted most of the Class of 2010 who returned to Kijabe for the weekend for pizza Sunday night.  A "40-cups of flour" dough recipe and 6 pounds of mozzarella, made enough pizza for the thirty ravenous alums… and a few other stragglers.  While Luke's classmates have chosen to attend college in the USA for the most part, they hail from the Netherlands, Brazil, England, Korea, Japan, Germany, Australia - as well as the USA…Among the returnees was Laura Tabb, daughter of our Bundibugyo bible translating colleagues, Waller and Mary.

The show-stealing star of that evening, indeed, the entire weekend is the newest member of the Myhre family….Introducing, Chardonnay.

She's a 8-week old Labrador Retriever-Golden Retriever mix known to some as a Golden Labrador or Goldador.  Her color - a light buff, sandy, pale, fawn….chardonnay.  Her demeanor - a gregarious, party, playful, affectionate…chardonnay.  She's a absolutely beautiful.  The offspring two RVA-based parents.  There seems to be a truth in our family that our kids learned from Jennifer:   if you talk about something frequently enough, you can basically talk something into reality.  I guess that's a sort of biblical concept.  God spoke Creation into existence.  So, too, Julia, Jack and Acacia basically spoke Chardonnay into life in our household.  While the timing has been the foolish end of the wisdom spectrum (Jennifer gone for the first 6 weeks of training a puppy?), the frisky frolicking play of Chardonnay is a welcome distraction from my loneliness.  Twenty-four days down…thirty-nine days left until I see Jennifer again.

Thursday, July 05, 2012


This 40 days of Caleb's Basic Training is a great gift for me, which others are paying for in sweat and blood.  For the first four days, I followed a scripture meditation guide from Donovan Graham and read the book above, all of which I highly recommend.  Our lives are so cluttered with input, and we try to escape emptiness with busy-ness, when what we really long for is God's presence.  So this period is an attempt to create space to hear, to know, to fill.

On Tuesday morning I started my task for the rest of the time here:  writing.  When we first arrived in Uganda in 1993 I wrote my mom and said I would never be able to keep a journal AND write letters, so would she please save the ones I sent her?  She was true to her word, and I lugged hundreds and hundreds of pages of them to Colorado. Below see them spread out in stacks from 1992 to 2010.  I spend hours a day reading through these detailed letters, and trying to distill the year's reality into a dozen pages or less.  This is for my own heart and perspective; for my kids to have a written record of their life; maybe for the all-new Bundibugyo team to be reminded of the history.  If God wants to take it further He will, but for now I am committed to simply writing.

 In the evenings I ramble, wandering the ranch as I think of the memories and pray for the people who helped make them, Ugandan friends who work steadily on, old team mates. 

I'm grateful for this time, and would appreciate prayers that God reminds me of the things that should not be forgotten, gives perspective, brings thanks and healing.  Pray also for the current team who are starting their own chapters; they meet in Fort Portal right now for vision and planning.