Saturday, March 25, 2017

Two Places at the Same Time

Let me be honest, it has been difficult this time around, for me (Laurie) at
least, to disengage from the US and to re-engage with our life her in Uganda.

Apparently this affects enough people that the BBC, British Broadcasting Corporation, published an article about this called, 'The Problem with
Being a Long Term Expat.'

You can read the article here:

This article quote sums it up, "Such long absences can play havoc with a person's sense of identity, a feeling that is inten-
sified by the length of time away and 
how often they visit home."

While you are in one country, time moves on in the other. Each time you
return it is not the same country you left behind and if you really think
about it, neither are you. Life happens and changes you both.

Yet, your memories and expectancies of how things will be upon your
return are based on the last time you were there. Even though this is
the way it should be, it still makes it difficult at times to keep up with
changes and where you now fit into them.

Speaking of Change - When we left in December 2016 for our time in US, the foundations were poured and a few lines of brick were being laid on the first buildings for the new campus for LivingStone International University.

These are the buildings now. What a difference a few months can make!

Culture and Exhibitions - Since our return we have attended a Cultural Gala
that allowed the students from different countries and tribes to showcase
some of their home areas through traditional dress, dramas and food.

It was fun to see the more quiet students portraying things from their heritage.

Daryl's new role as Dean brings with it different duties. He recently went with a team of faculty, staff and students to represent LIU at the National Council of Higher Education Exhibition for Universities and Tertiary Institutions in Kampala. This event allow others to know about LivingStone International University and the diversity of its students and staff.

They received information requests from over 500 prospective students. Though LIU is in its infancy, it has set higher standards than many other universities by having students use Kindles and having a computer lab; which many of the universities in Uganda do not have.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Boat Trips, Baptisms and Breaking Ground

Boat Trips - Daryl recently traveled with teammates on a three day trip 
to visit four churches that meet on Bugaya Island in Lake Victoria.  After 
driving for three hours, it was then a two hour (open) boat ride each way. 

The island was not the lush, tropical one like you might imagine, but very
rocky making the existence difficult both spiritually and physically. So just
in case food would be hard to come by the team brought their own with
them. (Sorry, chicken.)

Because these churches are so remote, it had been years since they had been visited by missionaries. Each one had about 20 to 30 members and met in simple buildings. It was encouraging to see them carrying on in their faith.
The mission team committed to helping them with training leaders and with more frequent visits in the future.

Baptisms - Following Spiritual Emphasis Week at LivingStone International University there were eight students who were baptized into Christ on November 2nd. It was a privilege to watch as these young men and women dedicated their lives to the Lord.

The phrase, "It takes a village", kept running through my head as a crowd gathered around the baptistery to take pictures, to pray with them and to welcome them into the church. It was also especially poignant that as the baptisms were occurring, we were being led in song by LIU students to the chorus of, "My soul, say yes - say yes - say yes!"

Breaking Ground - On November 7, LivingStone International University officially broke ground on their permanent campus! The new location is
about five kilometers east of Mbale town. Many government and community leaders attended the ceremony.

These are just a few of the things said during this long awaited event:

"This is the FIRST university to come to Budaka District. 
We need to own it and protect it."


"Five people applied for an entry-level job in Kampala. Each was given a tablet during the interview process. One of the applicants was a graduate from Living-
Stone International University. Because all students at LIU are trained to use Kindles, she was the ONLY one who knew how to use it. Not only was she offered the job, but she has since been offered a managerial position."

"Let's re-dedicate this land where we are standing back to the 
Creator. Past generations may have used it for evil purposes, 
but now we commit it back to God." 

Then he quoted this scripture:

"If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves; pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven 
and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land."  2 Chronicles 7:14

Back to the USA - We plan to be back in time for Christmas and to stay until the end of January. It is to be a time to hug a loved one again, to feel cold air, to eat a good hamburger and share stories of how God has been working in your lives and ours. We're deeply grateful for all of you and look forward to the opportunity to visit in person!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Visitors and Other Blessings

One thing we enjoy about living in Africa
is that there is rarely a dull moment. Each season brings new events and new faces.

Team - This summer most of our team- mates were on furlough except for our newest family, Leland, Gina and Adalyn Sawyer and us.

But it was still as active as ever.

A couple of our guests, Buzzy and Sue Green
Guests - Word of an Mbale guest house with real mattresses (instead of foam), American menu with sweet iced tea and Wi-Fi has gotten around and we were busy hosting visitors working with humanitarian efforts in the Mbale area.

If we count each person staying one night as one guest then we have had over 550 guests since we began hosting people in July 2015.

Ceremony - On July 30th, we attended our first Introduction, which tradi-
tionally is a formal declaration of betrothal similar to what Joseph and Mary had in the Bible. Some couples will hold a separate 'church' wedding after this.

Laurie was asked to attend in the  traditional attire called a Gomesi and Daryl was asked to wear a Kansu (both pictured to the right of our picture).

LIU - Since Uganda straddles the Equator seasons are similar year round; so terms like winter, spring, summer and fall are not used. So school terms are known as the August and January Semesters and the Term Break is during
what we would call Summer.

I realize I've fallen back into old habits when I ask a student how their
'Summer Break' was and receive a look of confusion.

The August Semester has brought students from nine different countries to LivingStone International University. It has been our largest intake to date,
with 106 students, bringing the enrollment to 236. We both mentor students
on a regular basis.

Partners - We were blessed by a recent visit from one of our supporting churches, The Hills Church of Christ.  The visit was short but sweet, filled
with meetings of our different ministries. Even so, it allowed us a moment
to drive up to the top of Mt Wanale to get a bird's eye view of Mbale.

Prayer Requests:
1) Health for our teammate JP Robinson who has been in the hospital in Kampala because of abdominal pain which resulted in a surgery.

2) Our plans for furlough as we try to find the right balance between travel, reporting and getting time to reconnect with family and friends.

3) Weekly Discovery Bible Study groups. Some of the students are beginning 
to get involved. Please pray that the groups will grow in number and in commitment to genuine discipleship.

Friday, July 29, 2016

A Day in the Life - Cultural Insights

After living in Africa for over 14 years we tend to not notice things that take visitors by surprise. So this post will be dedicated to a few of those things.
In it we will cover motorcycle taxis, electricity  and produce.

Motorcycle Taxis or Boda Bodas first started being used to carry passengers across the Kenyan/Ugandan Border. The motorcycle drivers would yell out
they would carry you 'border to border' and the slang became boda boda.

Bodas are both a blessing and a curse. A one way trip in the town of Mbale
is 1000 shillings or about 30 cents. A round trip is 2000 shillings or 60 cents.

Forgot your phone at home? Send it with someone on a boda. Need building supplies like a bag of cement or a 5 gallon bucket of paint but don't have the time to run it home? Send it on a boda.

That's the 'blessing' part of bodas, the convenience. But because the price
IS so low people use them everywhere and haul all kinds of objects.

The 'curse part of bodas is that because they are small, cheap and maneuverable they will drive ANYWHERE - the wrong way up the roads, weaving in-between cars and traffic lanes, so overloaded with items and people that they can easily overturn. There are hundreds of bodas in our dwontown areas and roundabouts that they clog traffic and cause many accidents. So riders must beware!

Electricity - It's strange to think that we live so close to THE Nile River.
That river that we heard so much about in Sunday School lessons as a kid.

The electricity we use is provided by that same river via a hydroelectric dam that spans The Nile at it's source in Jinja about 2 hours west of us in Mbale.
It's been said that the electricity gets sold to Kenya and Tanzania because
they will pay more, therefore shorting the people of Uganda.

We don't know if that's why, but electricity certainly is an issue here. Some days the electricity flickers as if someone is standing by the light switches
and is turning them off and on. Other days it is off all day and you can hear
the sounds of generators running. Then there are the days the electricity
runs as it should and we are truly thankful.

Produce - Unlike many African countries, Uganda is blessed with an abundance of water that allows for all manner of fruits and vegetables to grow year round. Just walk into the Mbale Central Marked and you will see the equivalent of a huge farmer's market that is open every day of the week!

The woman pictured below is selling eggplant, tomatoes, carrots, onions, mangoes, oranges, watermelon, pineapple, pumpkins, avocados, cabbage
and bell peppers. There are also imported and packaged goods, meats and
dairy products in town.

We hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into our life and that it helps you
to realize we are in good hands so that we are able to do the ministries we
have been allowed to come here to do.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

A Second Graduation for LivingStone International University

One of the ministries we are involved with in Mbale is LivingStone International University. We both serve as mentors to fourteen of the students. Daryl has been teaching part-time at LIU for the past two years.

LivingStone International University celebrated its second graduation on June 11th. This month we would like to share a bit about this historical event for the university, the Mbale Team and for you, the supporters that have made this possible.

Pride shone from the faces of the twenty-one graduates as they were led through town by a motorcycle escort and a marching band (as is the custom in Mbale for graduations, weddings and other memorable events.)

Sacrifices were made so that these students could attend LIU. For many, they are the first from their families to graduate from university. (For a great video on this click the link below or go to:

Hundreds of guests attended including the director of the National Council on Higher Education, local Members of Parliament, families and well-wishers of the graduates.

Often, before we are led in a prayer here the statement is made, "Let us believe and pray." 

This gives us pause from the instinctual bowing of our heads, to first setting our hearts on the belief of God fulfilling what we are about to ask for in the name of Jesus.

We would like to "believe and pray" that LIU's motto will come to pass for these graduates. LIU aims to produce students who are 'Ehtical, Employable and Empowered' who will engage in 'Building the Nations of Africa'.

A few of this year's graduates have already secured jobs which is a wonderful accomplishment anywhere, but especially here in Uganda where unemployment is so high. May they and all of the future graduates be used mightily to build the Lord's kingdom and to be a blessing to others, wherever he leads them.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

April Showers

April has indeed brought on the rains and we are so thankful! Our homes do not have air conditioning. We rely on fans and open windows which give us some respite from the heat, but also lets in the dust.

Our home is just off of a busy road. Some parts of it are paved, some are a mixture of dirt and corroded pavement (or tarmac as it is called here) and some is just pure dirt, which is what runs in front of our house.

Before eating each meal of the day we have to wipe down the table and sometimes the plates since they are stored on an open shelf in the dining room.

The rain brings a much awaited coolness, but can also make traveling a bit more difficult; as we saw on our recent journey to a Women's Retreat in Kenya. We have found many times in Africa  that the more difficult the journey, the more sweet the  fellowship when we finally get there.

We hoped that by getting out of the van (in the rain) that it would lighten it enough to get through this patch. but thankfully some men came to our aid, pushed the van out of the rut it was in and then told the driver a different path to take to go around it.

We made our way, slipping and sliding through the mud (I took off my sandals and just walked barefoot with the mud squishing through my toes) and then thankfully piled in and continued on the way to the retreat.

Uganda like many nations in the continent of Africa has such contrasts that it keeps you on your toes. We can go to the supermarket and see dried minnows for sale to eat (a delicacy here) and in the next aisle, Oreos!

We can see a young man tending cows as he walks beside them talking on his cell phone. Poverty, yet uninhibited giving when there is a need or a time to bless someone who has had their first child.

Here in Mbale, Muslims work side by side with Christians. Some of the most powerful testimonies are of Muslims who have become Christians, even though it meant estrangement from their families.

Prayer Requests:

1) We are thankful for the open hearts of so many here in Uganda and for the baptisms we've had this month.

2) Thanksgiving for the generous donation that we received that allowed us to finish an addition to a church member's home. They now have a working toilet and a separate room for the boys, a room for
the girls and a separate room for the grandparents.

3) Prayer for our continued health.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

A Father to the Fatherless

"A father to the fatherless,

a defender of widows,

is God in his holy dwelling.

God sets the lonely in families,

he leads out the prisoners with singing;

but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land."

Psalm 68:5-6

This is a beautiful picture of the God of all who is also Father of all. Even 
those who have lost the dearest ones in the world to them are not alone. 

In Christ they are given a new family. I think about this description 
of our Lord all the time we work among the people of Uganda.

Tuesdays are a scheduled office day when many people come by, some-
times just to greet us, often for prayer and assistance for spiritual and physical needs.

Last Tuesday, three people that I met with stood out to me. One had never known his parents.

Another had lost both parents by the age of 6 and had to grow up in a house of her grandfather who had six wives with children in one house.

The third had lost both parents to AIDS and was forced to drop out of school by the time he was 15.

Similar stories could be multiplied
by the dozens among our church members and university students. So many have endured more than their fair share of hardships early in life.

As a couple in our mid-50's, Laurie and I find ourselves 
being looked upon here in Uganda as old (!) and wise (!!)  

We have the privilege of building relationships and speaking hope into 
the lives of people who have had very few healthy adult role models.

The good news is that people are finding family connections through 
God's people. Two of those young mentioned above are pursuing BA 
studies at LivingStone International University (LIU).

The third is now ministering at
a church and has a wife and new baby of his own.

It is our prayer that they will all continue to experience "new life" that will be very different than what they have known in the past.

Prayers of Thanksgiving for:

1) Safe arrival of two new team families!

~Rick and Marinda Trull have arrived in Mbale  and Rick is the new President or Vice Chancellor (as they are called here in Uganda) of LivingStone International University (LIU)

~Leland and Gina Sawyer and their daughter Adalyn arrived shortly afther the Trulls and have recently moved into their house after making some renovations.

2) Generous gifts

~300 Bibles for Mbale Church of Christ that came on the Sawyers container

~ Building materials to add a needed room onto the house of a church member

3) Peaceful election process in Uganda

Thank you for praying for us and sending us to be a part of this mission.      
Daryl and Laurie