Posting this on the blog as I missed the deadline for BMS to process our December prayer letter before Christmas, so it will probably be published in January.
At their teachers wedding
We hope that this letter finds you well, thank you for taking the time to catch up on our news and an even bigger thank you for your prayers.
The last few months have been wonderfully full of opened doors and new opportunities. It feels like a new season for our life and work in Gulu and it’s lovely to look back on previous prayer letters and see so many answers to prayers.
A big part of being able to take advantage of the doors that God has opened has been having the nursery class at ‘Gulu Globetrotters School’ – the home-schooling cooperative that we and the Darbys have helped set up. Their teacher Lindsay has just got married to a wonderful Acholi and the numbers continue to grow so now we even have a waiting list!
We have recently taken on a teacher for the younger class, Florence, a wonderful Ugandan lady who radiates warmth and love. The style of education we are hoping to provide is different from typical Ugandan schools, meaning it hasn’t been easy identifying someone suitable. Finding Florence really felt like God’s provision.
With Globetrotters also providing the bonus of additional childcare, Lois has been able to increase the time available for her therapy work. Her clinic continues to be busy and in September she piloted two therapy groups: one for families of children with Down Syndrome, and one for parents of children under 5 who aren’t talking. She has also been training classroom assistants in a school that takes children with Cerebral Palsy.
Reuben enjoying the traditional acholi dancing
God has also opened a door at Gulu University. Through an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) Consultant who heard of her work, Lois has been asked to teach medical students about Speech and Language Therapy, a discipline to which they otherwise have no exposure. The next step in developing Lois’ work is to find someone to work alongside her who can eventually take on her caseload and lead the therapy groups. Prayers for being drawn to the right person(s) are much needed, so please join us in that.
Another example of God’s wonderful provision has been in finding a new home for us. A property that friends were renting became available, but we thought the cost of rent would be prohibitive. Thankfully the landlord agreed to keep the rent the same as we paid previously and we have moved about 100 metres down the road. Our new home has more space and is surrounded by fruit trees that provide glorious amounts of shade for the children to play outside all day. It also includes a good piece of land in front of the property that Genesis will be using as a research and development plot as we look for new crops for the farmers we work with to diversify further.
Our new space has also increased our hosting capacity, which has meant that we are now the regular venue for a monthly discipleship lunch for about 30 students from church. Jimmy and Phiona Okello are taking the students through a series on relationships and lots of interesting conversations have already been had. Surprisingly, the topic of relationships is not one that is usually addressed at home, nor in church settings. This means that most young people have never really thought through what hopes and expectations they might have in a future spouse, or what a Biblical marriage might look like.
The student work continues to grow and a few weeks ago 13 young people were baptised. The baptismal pool was a cut down water tank filled with rainwater, and the day was unusually cloudy and chilly. One of our current Action Team, James, decided to brave the cold water and was baptised too!
In October, we took another trip to Kasese in western Uganda to see the work that BMS is supporting through the Baptist association. Amongst other visits, Joe was able to meet with some of the savings groups that our colleague Benon has been training. The savings groups have been established for church members to collectively save money to then loan to each other to spend on things like school fees and medical bills, or to start small business. Lois also had a chance to meet with Supported Partner Worker, Nyakato, who is developing a ministry teaching deaf children and their families sign language.
With the current Agriculture Livelihoods Project ending in March 2018, Joe and Genesis are busy working on what will come next – so watch this space! Recent evaluation visits are already showing that the households we’ve been working with have seen a significant increase in their income from agriculture; 30.8% in the first year alone. Equally encouraging have been the reports that many of the farmers have been sharing their knowledge, and their seeds, with their neighbours, meaning that the impact of the project has spread well beyond those with whom we’re directly working. Please pray for God’s leading as we make plans to grow the work further.
And we have a new, budding agronomist in our midst, Genesis and Sarah are parents to a beautiful baby girl, Piker! Pronounced Peekay, her name is shorthand for ‘Piker pa Yecu’, meaning: ‘for the kingdom of Jesus Christ’. The whole family are all doing well.
We are looking forward to seeing many of you during our upcoming Home Assignment, we’re only sorry that we’re unable to see you all. We’re also very excited for our first Christmas in the UK since 2011, and this will be Reuben’s first trip back to the UK since he was born. Winter in Yorkshire is certainly going to be a shock!
We have so much to praise God for; He truly is making a way. Join us in thanking Him for:
- Florence and Gulu Globetrotters School;
- Opening doors for Lois’ therapy work;
- The growing student work at University Community Church and the baptisms;
- The impact that the Agriculture Livelihood Project has had on the farmers and their communities.
And please pray for:
- God’s direction in our plans for the continuing agricultural work;
- Someone to work alongside Lois;
- Our Home Assignment, particularly that the children would adjust and cope well, and for a good time of connection with our church partners;
- Quality time with family and friends;
- Safe and uneventful travels.
We have our Home Assignment schedule posted on our blog; so even if we’re not coming to your church, please take a look as we may be visiting nearby.
With much love,
Joe, Lois, Connie and Reuben.