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Monday, January 30, 2023

A tale of two Januaries

Twice a year, we put on our Area Director hats over our Team Leader hats and meet with the leadership of Serge. Lately that's been a mix of virtual, attached to another meeting, or in our Home Office, but this January we traveled to Philadelphia to meet where it all started. Grateful for a week of prayer and pondering our measurable specific objectives to go with our vision, mission, values, and strategies. Serge emphasises being field-led. It's inconvenient and expensive to get voices from all over the world to the table, but we're glad to practice what we preach about being an upside-down Kingdom of Jesus.

A paradox of celebration and sorrow was that we spent one of the evenings recognising the years of service Josiah and Barbara have invested in Serge. We actually joined at the same time in 1991, and for the last decade Josiah has been our Director of Mission. They will continue as senior advisors to our younger leaders, but step aside from that central role. 

A perk of January meetings . . . seeing some SNOW in West Virginia, and getting to spend a few days at our family farm in Sago on the way out. We also visited my mom and sister and family on the way in (photos in our mailchimp prayer letter last week). Since we boomeranged back, we've been using the term "cultural whiplash" to explain the paradox of this phase of our life . . . that it is amazing and beautiful that we can see our families and meet our leaders and touch base for a period of two weeks, but also jarring to move so quickly back and forth between worlds. On the way to the airport we stopped in to greet my Aunt Ann, big sister to my father, now 92, and tenderly cared for by my cousin Bruce who retired from the military and makes it possible for her to stay at home.
But that was only one January, and this year we lived through two. One in the USA and one in Uganda.

Back to Uganda by mid month, we hit the ground already feeling behind as this is the start of the school year, the financial year, the swirling issues of finalising budgets, contracts, tax payments, not to mention the 8-year legal case that unjustly canceled the ownership of our school farms. The last weeks have been non-stop with catching up with team and zooms with the area. . . . 

And friends. Praying for so many important issues in people we love, and rejoicing that the two young primary students whose lives and fees we've been involved in fostering passed their national exams with flying colours.  Back to our dear team too, and fellowship over pizza at our house.

Pat came for the week, and Martha Mixon who used to be a team leader in Nairobi and now works with Serge in the USA visited to support us all. She met with people as "member care", an important department in Serge designed to help us all thrive in our work. Then Saturday she led the women in an all-day retreat to meditate on the Psalms of Ascent and the Road to Emmaus story of encountering Jesus, knowing that is what we truly all need. 

As part of our retreat, we were instructed to find an object that demonstrates the "state of our souls". This was mine. A little coffee pot meant to pour out goodness for others, but a bit worn and beat up. We can't see how full or empty it is. And while it wants to pour blessing, the fires of life sometimes make it just boil over. It needs to be refreshed and filled again. Grateful for the prayers and love that send the Spirit for just that!

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