Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A New Chapter

Transitioning to a first world country from a third world country after 2 years isn't as easy as it looks. Steven puts it well when he says "never have we had less". We came back with no congregation, no home, no car, no jobs, no furniture and very little possessions. When you haven't had a job that gives you a real paycheck in 2 years it's pretty challenging to get those things. It's been a rocky and slow start. Just today I'm completely unpacking my suitcases for the first time in 3 months, because we have moved over 10 times between different people's homes. To say it's been a bit overwhelming, is to understate it. Where we thought we'd be by now is far away.

I'll take just a few sentences to be competently realistic about this. Maybe it can help some who plan to serve where the need is great in a foreign country or are... To be frank, you will face tests upon coming back. We actually feel coming back is harder than it was to go to Uganda. Well meaning people will say some really unkind or discouraging things that can be hurtful or frustrating. And some people will act like they just don't care what you've done. Not that we need validation or special recognition. We feel as though we did what we ought to have done with our circumstances. But there is a wish for some empathy; because of the monumental changes, huge sacrifices, and enormous challenges that were faced...stuff you feel shaves years off your life. Bouncing back in not automatic, positivity isn't instant, and sometimes there's really no 'everything just falling into place'... Satan will try to taint the cherished memories you have from your experience and you'll be faced with the question: Was it really all worth it??? To turn the light back on; YES! It's worth it! There is a lesson learned in every challenge. Jehovah is training. Even if you have no idea right now what the lessons are, or how this training will benefit you. Just remember:

  • Romans 5:3 "let us rejoice while in tribulations, since we know that tribulation produces endurance” 
  • James 1:4 “But let endurance complete its work, so that you may be complete and sound in all respects, not lacking in anything." 
  • 1 Peter 4:12, 13 “Beloved ones, do not be surprised about the fiery trials that you are experiencing, as though something strange were happening to you. On the contrary, go on rejoicing over the extent to which you are sharers in the sufferings of the Christ, so that you may rejoice and be overjoyed also during the revelation of his glory.

Sorry if that lacked tact. I feel to be blunt is a necessary thing. Usually I'm all rainbows and butterflies, but that's not realistic sometimes. That's why this ^ is in the Bible. As one brother put it harshly, but so oddly refreshing... "No one asked you to go to Uganda... SO STOP COMPLAINING!" So this is where I stop. Sorry that was more than a few sentences.

We're moving on, and hope for many more adventures with Jehovah if he allows us. But Uganda is still a piece of our heart and always will be. We've been able to keep in contact with many people and have even been able to conduct studies over the phone with two people who live hours from the Kingdom Hall there. Upon leaving we got so many lovely encouraging letters! I look at these to keep me going and remind myself why...

Here are some of the sweet things they said... 

"I wish for you to stay not go. We wish Jehovah's blessing on you. You will be in our prayers. Thank you for teaching us about Jehovah. May we progress and reach our goal of baptism. Everywhere we go, we must serve Jehovah..." David (9 years old) 

"I am thankful for the wonderful times we spent together in Uganda. Thank you a lot for the help you gave given to my family. We love you Niki and Steven. We thank Jehovah for the wonderful people like you." Veronica and her children 

"I am very happy to have you as my Bible teacher and Jehovah. I will always love you wherever you are. I will miss you so much my best teacher and my best friend. I will be strong and may we meet again in the beautiful place named paradise..." Mary Akon

"Friendship doubles our joys, and halves our sorrows. Thank you for showing us that kind of friendship. Over our many years that Derek and I have spent here, people have come and gone. Many only enter the peripheral vision of our hearts, but, you have entered the focal point of our hearts. We will never forget you." Jennifer & Derek Burrell

"Thank you for sacrificeing your pleasures to share in the ministry in Uganda. Jehovah will never forget your good works, and he will bless you for what you have done." Rebecca 

Expressions like these make all the problems we faced in Uganda and all the problems we face coming back more than worth it. A scripture I shared with all of my students before leaving was Colossians 2:5-7 "Though I am absent in body, I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ. Therefore, just as you have accepted Christ Jesus the Lord, go on walking in union with him, being rooted and built up in him and being stabilized in the faith, just as you were taught..." May they do that, and may we do the same.