The Christmas season always sneaks up on me in Uganda, even after 7 of them! It?s sort of like ?Christmas in July? with our clear, hot 95-degree December weather. The Christmas music I hear in public places sounds discordant in the early part of the month. But I soon begin to enter into the spirit of the season, with helpful reminders coming in the from of emails from friends and family, telling me of cold weather, snow, and holiday preparations from home.
I loved the white Christmases we experienced in Spokane, WA, where we lived for 21 years. Nineteen of them were white. In Uganda I have a white reminder, even with our hot weather, when we get our biggest bloom of the year in the coffee plantations. The blooms and the beans grow on the length of each branch on each bush, and it gives the appearance of how snow will settle on the branches of trees. But there is also a wonderful scent that comes with our ?white Christmas,? because the coffee blooms have a delicate, sweet scent, very similar to orange blossoms. It?s one of my favorite things about the Christmas season here.
As I look back over this past year and longer, I have realized how God has been teaching me some wonderful lessons. It has not been an easy year, and yet it has been a wonderful year. I have meditated much upon a song by The Newsboys that very well could be an African Christmas song. It describes a shepherd gazing upon the Christ child, ?wrapped in rags, as we are,? and how the only thing he has to give Him is ?Adoration,? the name of the song. I have found that the worship songs which have ministered the most to my heart this season have been the ones that simply express thanksgiving to the Lord.
I have experienced the death of my mother, strange and serious physical illnesses, healings, snakes in my house and in a boat, the theft of my truck, the near loss of new truck and life in a serious rollover accident, the betrayal and deceptions of a perceived friend. All of these have served in their various ways to teach me to trust the Lord in new, undreamed of ways. In James 2:5 the Bible says that the poor of this world are blessed because God has chosen them to be rich in faith. I have pondered that much, living in one of the poorest countries in the world, and I have concluded that such great faith comes from their very lack. Those of us from richer countries have many options that we too often try before seeking God in prayer. But in Uganda, people often have no such options, so the believers can only turn to God and cry out to Him. What God has done for me this past year has been to put me in situations where I had no options. And my faith has grown proportionately.
Sometime in my early years in Uganda, God gave me a vision where I saw a dark night sky, lit only by stars. Even starlight is so bright in Uganda that I was able to see the outline of the tropical forest, stretching to the horizon. Then I saw the huge figure of an archer rise up above the forest, stretching his bow string to its maximum. As his huge arrow arced its way across that night sky, its trajectory taking it ever so far out into that jungle forest, God spoke to my heart. He said to me, "You are that arrow. I am sending you far out into the wilderness, but later, others will follow."
After a few years a few tentative visitors began to come. Two years ago, I hosted my first team, a group of mostly medical professionals. Then this year, from June until December, we enjoyed a steady stream of teams and visitors. All of them contributed fruitful ministry to the work here in central Uganda. In addition, God has touched the hearts of a number of Ugandans coming out to minister at times with us, from the Kampala Foursquare Gospel Church.
God has been true to His word, as He always is, just as when He sent us His Son. So as I close out this wonderful, crazy, busy, difficult, sad, happy, fruitful year, my heart is indeed thankful and full of adoration for my Lord and Savior.
Have a Merry and Blessed Christmas!