We wanted to start-off by saying “thank you!” to many of you who encouraged us this summer, and who have continued to stay in touch. We have received notes from many of you, through email, facebook, texting, that have let us know that you are thinking of us, and it really means so much. A couple of you have even sent youtube links to your current favorite worship songs, which has been a big treat! Praise and worship in Uganda is much different than what we experience in our churches in the U.S. It is really a gift to see and experience a whole new way of worshiping our Father, but it is also nice to experience and hear the songs that God is using in the American churches to draw His believers close to Him in worship as well.
It’s hard to believe we’ve only all been back in Uganda for almost three months again now since summer break (thank you for being patient on an update!) but we are settling in well again. It really felt nice to be back in Uganda. It was funny to think about how strange and new everything felt the first time we came to visit Uganda, and all of the new experiences, smells, sights, accents, etc. that we have gotten used to “slowly by slowly” (as Ugandans would say) over the last couple of years. This time around, it all felt pretty “normal” to us all, even, or maybe especially, the kids. They really seemed to just fall back into life here, have been happy, settled, and just seem at home. We are so grateful for this.
Since coming back, the kids have now been busy in school. Audrey is in 4thgrade, Simon is in 1st, and Lucy and Norah are in preschool. They are all really enjoying being back in school with their teachers and friends. Lucy and Norah have loved being “big girls” and going to school everyday. At the beginning of the year, on Saturdays even, Lucy was quite upset for a bit that she could not go to school that day. We wonder if she’ll feel the same once she’s a high school student? 😉
Ryan has been quite busy at Lulwanda since returning. There is much work to be done as he oversees the medical care of the kids and staff, as well as overseeing discipleship. He is also adjusting to taking care of our Tendo campus and University kids, along with various other tasks and administrative assistance. He has been quite encouraged by some of the things going on at Lulwanda currently though! One very exciting bit of news is that two more houses have begun to be built at Lulwanda! This means that about 20 more children will have the opportunity to move into a house in which they will have about 9 brothers and sisters and one house mom. Their home life will offer them a childhood much more in line with a traditional home structure than what is common in orphanages/children’s homes. This will only benefit them in the long run, both because they will have more attention from their house mom, there will be more opportunities for the moms to have regular Bible study with their children, and they will also more naturally learn skills that will help them lead their own homes and families one day.
Another way in which we have been encouraged is by Martin, a youth pastor that Lulwanda has hired. He and his wife live at Lulwanda, and having him on the compound has been really beneficial for the children and staff. He leads weekly Bible studies for the staff, and also does regular Bible study with the children. Having another Ugandan, Christian, male living at Lulwanda to be a role model for the boys and girls has been great. He is willing to disciple and talk to the children when they have questions, need re-direction, and when they simply need or want someone to talk to.
Megan is adjusting to having no children with her in the mornings! Two mornings each week, she is helping out at the small missionary school. Other mornings are spent at Lulwanda, running errands in town, and taking care of things at home. Shortly after we returned, she had the opportunity to teach at a Women’s Conference in Mbale that was intended for women who are in ministry in some capacity themselves, whether they serve in their churches directly or they support their husbands who are serving as pastors or have other roles in the churches in Uganda and Kenya. It was an encouraging time to worship with and teach and learn along with so many Ugandan and Kenyan women who love the Lord and seek to serve Him and love others.
Our most exciting news since returning is that 7 new children have made Lulwanda their home! We are incredibly thankful that God has entrusted us all with them. We are thankful for Him rescuing them from vulnerability and has provided for them a home in which they are loved and cared for. We will work on a special update to send out that shares a couple of their stories soon. We love you, and thank you for your prayers! ~Ryan and Megan