Lira, Uganda—News from the Field

10/01/07

Greetings from Lira, Uganda! It is so good to be back here—to feel the embrace of the Ugandan staff and to see some of the children and adults in the camps that we left behind. There were tears of joy and hugs as we were warmly welcomed to our home here. Ed met his namesake, Little Ed or “Hed” as they call him here! It is such a joy to see the work of God in the lives of the people that we met last year.

At the time of this letter, we have been privileged to work with over 1,700 children and adults. Each of our team has made an invaluable contribution to the work here. It is such a delight to see how God uses the personalities and the gifts of individuals to accomplish His work. Here are a few of the stories from our first few days:

We returned to one of the last camps we worked with in 2006, the Cultural Center. We were going to follow up the work that the Arizona team had started. Personally and honestly, we felt a little discouraged. We figured if we had worked there in 2006 and another team had been there in 2007—what was left to do? God reminded us that morning that, “If you are truly recognizing your Lord, you have no business being concerned about how and where He engineers your circumstances.” A couple of hours later, I (Sue) was at the bottom of the amphitheatre at the camp and looked up—there were numerous groups all over, including hundreds of people waiting for medical assistance. We both just smiled at the end of the day at God’s planning, which often is so different then our own.

You “met” Beatrice from last year (the mother of little Ed). This year, I (Sue) was able to work with Beatrice’s sisters, Monica and Stella who both have escaped from the rebels. Neither of these sisters was in the camp in 2006. Monica is sixteen years old, spent 3 years in the bush and returned with a little girl. Life has been hard because her life changed forever, not only through the abduction, but also through this child. So many young girls have had their childhood taken from them and have been thrust into parenthood so early. Stella’s life has changed forever—the rebels killed her husband, raped her, and left her pregnant. When she finally escaped, she returned home with AIDS and further rejection. She wants to be a good mom to her children until God calls her Home.

We also returned to Erute Camp and there was a sweet reunion with Lucy—the blind young woman we introduced you to last year. She heard my voice and knew it was Aunty Sue. There is nothing as sweet as being reminded that you could meet someone for a few short hours and leave a lasting impression.

This year at Erute Camp, Eunice came to one of the groups. Eunice, orphaned by the war, now lives with her only aunt who abuses her. Her aunt refuses to pay her school fees, so Eunice is unable to attend school. She grieves for the loss of her mother and the loss of education; however, Eunice received healing this last week and the difference in her face was remarkable. Please pray that God would provide for this young girl—her dream is simply to be loved and to go to school.

The final week of our team’s stay in Lira will be at Abia Camp. This camp was the sight of a horrific massacre in 2003. Rebels surrounded Abia, home for thousands of displaced people, and began to burn it to the ground. Today many burn victims still live there. Abia is a place no one has been in order to offer healing to the many survivors of the killings. Friday morning we loaded up our vans with 29 people and headed 43km (about 26 miles) down one of the worst roads you can imagine. Our time at this camp was very special—first, because the people there hunger for healing. Second, for the first time, our Ugandan staff out numbered our US team in doing the counseling groups. What an amazing accomplishment! We had 13 team leaders and over 215 kids and adults that were in counseling groups.

This team is a blessing—they have done an amazing job! Our son and daughter-in-law have also been a blessing to us. Each of them had the opportunity of leading one of the children they were working with to Christ. Every one leaves here with a heart and life that is changed. Please pray for us as our team leaves. We will continue to do counseling, set up our sponsorship program and first orphan home, conduct parenting workshops, and oversee a group of eight interns that will be here. Life will be busy but we love to be here—to see the heart of God in the lives of these people.