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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Reflections... and a look Forward

As we approach another new year, I love to look back at where the Lord has taken us over this past year, and look with hopeful anticipation at what He has in store for 2013. I believe it is always good to reflect on the goodness of the Lord, His lovingkindness toward His children, the promises He has kept, His goodness, love, mercy, forgiveness, provision. The year 2012 was a year of seeing God work in all of those ways, and I praise Him for all He has done.
I want to share a few things God has done in 2012, and then share our hopes for 2013 with you.
In 2012 God:

Paul on his old "trike"....getting a new one soon!
Provided money to buy our dear sweet Paul with a new "trike". Paul developed an illness as a young teen. It went untreated and he was left crippled as a result. He has been using the trike you see in the picture above as his means of movement. However, on two trips during 2012 we noticed he was crawling on his hands and feet. His trike, while it has done him good for years, has increasingly deteriorated to the point that it is now a better stewardship to purchase a new one for him. One has recently been purchased, and will be delivered to him when we go to Uganda in February.

Lobali John, with Mark...his sponsor
Another answer to prayer for 2012 is the health of Lobali John, one of the children in Mercy Uganda's sponsorship program. Lobali John just finished his third term at Moroto High, and was leaving Karamoja to travel to Iganga to stay with his brother while on holiday from school during the Christmas season. He was riding on the back of a boda boda (motorcycle) with two men when they had an accident involving a trailor. The trailor somehow landed on them, crushing and killing the other two people Lobali John was with. Word was that Lobali John may be dead himself, or alive but losing both legs. It took several days for our director, Henry Mello to find him in Mulago Hospital......alive and well with only a broken leg. Now, the leg was broken in more than one place and he had to have surgery to repair it, but he is alive and recovering! Praise the Lord! He will make full recovery and be able to return to school, hopefully by February.

Left to Right: Pastor Phillip, Henry, and Gabriel
The year 2012 was a time of struggle, and hardship for our dear sweet Henry and Gabriel, who went through a very difficult period....a period that tests men's resolve and teaches them things about God's faithfulness in the darkness.  As they went through the fire, God embraced them.  He reminded them of His deep love for them, and that He is there with them....never to leave or forsake them.  I don't think I've met two young men with more integrity than Henry and Gabriel.  Two young men who, since I have known them, put others before themselves, and who have sacrificed so much to minister to others.  We know that Satan does not attack where he already rules, so it makes perfect sense that he began his assault on Henry and Gabriel.  The battle continues, but God continues to shine His light in their lives, and continues to hold them in His righteous right hand.  Our prayer and hope for Henry and Gabriel in 2013 is that God will be glorified in their lives, and that the difficulty of the events of 2012 will be only a chapter from the past....a chapter that leads them, and Mercy Uganda to a stronger reliance upon, and faith in God, who uses all things in our lives for our good and His glory.


Left to Right: Ashley, Paul, and Jenna
God brings certain people into our lives who have a way of shining His love so brightly that we can't help but be moved, changed, inspired, and encouraged by them.  Such as Paul Telemwa.  I had the privilege of meeting him about three years ago, and have seen God work through Paul's life, and his disability.  Paul fell from a ladder while preparing for a conference at his church.  No one knew at the time that his injury would take him down a road of increasingly painful and debilitating health.  He began to lose the use of his legs, and it was discovered that he had spinal injuries.  Surgery was provided, he improved......for a time. In August of 2012 we had the opportunity to see Paul again.  This time, he had declined such that he could not live alone and a family took him in to care for him.  We were told surgery was needed in order for Paul to improve.  We set in motion a fundraising mission with matching funds already in place.  We came home to America, and found out within two weeks, that Paul died unexpectedly as friends drove him to the local hospital.  His dear friend Henry....our director, was here in the U.S. and unable to be by Paul's side, or even attend his funeral.  Painful and difficult?  Yes.....but the beautiful part of Paul's story is that he unashamedly loved the Lord.  Even in his on pain and suffering, he found ways to share Christ and minister to others who were hurting.  Paul wrote a song not long before his death that sums up how he lived, and what and Who he saw as important.  The song is called "My Harvest" and words are:
When I will rest of the troubles of this world.  When I cross home where labor will be no more with me, will be all my deeds.  My contribution to this world will have ended.  (Chorus) The love I have shared, bears fruits in my  hands.  When I share with the needy, there I get my reward. 
Of what benefit is it to me?  When I gather and bring in wealth into my vaults.  All my laboring will be in vain if I do not share with the poor. 
With me will be my harvest when I cross home to present to my Father.  What a disgrace if I will have nothing on my name.  I will have led an empty life in this world. 

Paul will be so very missed this side of heaven, but we can say with confidence we will see him again.  So 2013 will be a year of his memory and testimony living on and influencing so many more lives.

Land in Uganda
And last but not least.....2012 was a year of enormous provision.....God provided land to Mercy Uganda through the generosity of His children here in the U.S.  Through the financial gifts of many, Mercy Uganda was able to purchase 2 acres of land, and is preparing to buy a third.  This purchase has been a prayer for nearly two years as we have sought God's will, guidance, and plan for our Faith 500 Vision.  The year 2012 was the year of God leading us to the land, and providing the means to purchase the land.  The year 2013 will begin the next phase of this work......clearing and building.  Our prayer is for a home for the children, and an agriculture and livestock program that will provide food and training for the orphans in our program, and will help the ministry work become more self-sustaining.  Praise the Lord for His provision for us!  Our February trip will be a time of seeing the land,  and working out vital logistics for the building to begin.  The summer of 2013 will be a time of great excitement as we get a team together to travel to Uganda to begin the much anticipated building projects.  Reflecting back.....seeing God's hand in all that we have been through......looking forward with hopeful anticipation as we see our faithful Father caring for His children in amazing and wonderful ways. 
Please pray for us as we continue this Faith 500 Vision.  We are confident that God is in this work.  He provided the land, the well for water on the we are getting close to the needed funds for the truck to haul supplies, materials, and feed, and funds for the completion of the buildings.  We know He will finish the work He has begun. 
2013 will be an exciting year as we hold tightly to God as He leads us on His path for us!

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