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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Live by Faith, Not by Sight ~ One Year

A year… That’s how long it’s been since we stepped out in FAITH and left the comforts of home to follow where we knew God was leading us. Yes, there were a lot of unknowns (and there still are) But we knew, that we knew, that we knew that it was time.

Thinking back I recall times when we were surrounded by friends and family who were cheering us on, and times when words of discouragement were spoken over us. The enemy so easily could have used those hurtful words against us, but God prevailed and we pressed into Him as we moved forward. The truth is those words like, “It’s just to difficult” or “God’s plan shouldn’t be so hard,” although difficult to hear, strengthened us even more because we knew that God’s word tells us that following Him will not be easy, that there will be persecution and that without Him the road would be difficult.

“Is anything too difficult for the Lord?” ~Genesis 18:14

“If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you… If they persecute Me they will persecute you… for they do not know the One who sent Me.” ~ John 15:19-21

Just because something is difficult doesn’t mean it is not God’s will! Remember Jesus dying on the cross? There was nothing easy about that for Jesus, but It. Was. God’s plan! In the same way, God is taking all of us on a journey. He has a plan for each of us. It might not be what we had in mind, it might not happen on our timetable, and it’s likely much of that plan will surprise us or even shock us. (That’s why he only shares a little bit at a time) That plan will look different for each of us. It might be leading a small group bible study in your community, it might be mentoring individuals, or ministering to the homeless in your town. It could be adopting, fostering, church planting, leading a study with your office staff or tutoring kids in an afterschool program. For one person it might look like serving in a soup kitchen and for another it might look like counseling women who have just come out of prostitution in a third world country. No matter the calling on a person’s life, no matter how big or small those things may look in “the world’s” eyes, in God’s eyes they are ALL big, they are ALL significant, and most importantly they ALL bring glory to God.

Today I’m sitting here listening to the children singing at the primary school next door, the call to prayer over the loud speaker at the nearby Mosque, and the heavy rain that’s falling on the tin roof and my heart is FULL. Yes, there are days when I struggle, there are days when my plate feels too full, and even days when I feel lonely (even with 98, 7 kids.) But the Lord is faithful; he never fails to show me His goodness and He is the One I cling to. May everything I do bring GLORY TO HIM!

Verses that I cling to:

“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would
See the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the Lord.” ~Psalm 27:13-14

The Lord’s lovingkindness indeed never cease,
For His compassion never fail.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I have hope in Him.”
~ Lamentations 3:22-24

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. ~Hebrews 10:23

 There are so many faces we miss, so many ‘things’ we miss, and so many moments we miss being a part of, but God sustains us and we are SO glad we were obedient to God’s voice and said YES!

What is God speaking to your heart? What is He asking you to say ‘YES’ to?
Which road will you follow?

We Live by FAITH, not by sight.
~ 2 Corinthians 5:7

Friday, September 18, 2015

Death & Grief

Two words I thought I was familiar with. And Then… Africa.

It’s hard to put into words the emotion that I feel now that we’ve lived in Uganda for 9 months. Death & Grief, they surround you here. It’s part of everyone’s story. Someone mentioned attending a burial service today for their 8yr old nephew. His short life was taken away by Hepatitis C, a common disease that can be cured with antiviral drugs in 90% of people. Yesterday a mom pregnant with her 8th baby due to deliver soon shared how full of fear she is after losing 4 of her 7 babies. Just this morning our watchman came to work with high fever and a severely swollen face and neck from what looked like cellulitis. This is the same man whom just 2 weeks ago was struggling from severe pain and high fever from malaria and typhoid. He then shared with me that his son had been severely sick. The mother had taken him to the hospital for treatment of malaria and typhoid and he continued to decline. They returned to the clinic again for IV meds and thankfully this morning he was sitting up and drinking. Stories like these are everywhere and they are heart wrenching. It is never-ending for the people that God has placed here. My heart literally aches for them. The need here is abundant. But among the turmoil… God is PRESENT!

It’s not like we don’t all deal with death in our lives. We are all destined for it. We have all lost loved ones young & old. But here, so many mamas are losing babies, daddies are losing their wives, and children are losing their parents at an alarming rate. So much is preventable. So much of it because of reasons like, “there was no money for transportation,” “we could not pay for the medicines,” “we didn’t know there was a problem.” I’ve come to realize that education on signs and symptoms is crucial and they are hungry to have the knowledge. Just like my friends back home, women want to know how to have a healthy pregnancy, how to have a safe birth and how to care for a healthy newborn. These are the same women that deliver their baby and then ride a boda home 4hrs later, the same women that are carrying jerry cans of water on their head, collecting firewood, cooking and gardening all while caring for their other children, trying to breastfeed their newborn and heal from just giving birth. The women here are my HEROS, they amaze me in their strength and dignity, and they inspire me.

I had no idea when God moved us here that one of the ways he would use me most was to counsel hurting people; grief, marriage, financial, etc. I never thought this was a gift and definitely didn’t think it was something I was qualified to do. Now I realize God has been preparing me for years. It’s never something I do on my own; thankfully God gave me a helper. Without Holy Spirit I would be dangling here in a pool of grief, struggles and tragedies. I’m so grateful that He came to me, that he adopted me and that He forever takes up residence in my heart.

“I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you.” ~John 14:18

Thankfully Jesus does not save us by His grace to just abandon us to ourselves and our own works. He’s totally rad in that way. We have not been left alone! We have been given Holy Spirit, the spirit of the very same One who gifted us saving grace!

It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us. ~ 2 Corinthians 1:21-22

Daily I pray that God will help me to be a blessing to others, but to not carry all their burdens. It’s a struggle for me. I want to help everyone. I want to put their backpack of troubles on my back and carry it for them. The load would be to heavy, the burden to great.

Today I pray that as you read this you will pray for the people who are struggling all around the world. The rich, the poor, the sick, the refugee, the political leaders, the young and the old who are struggling in different ways. That even in your trials and struggles you will hand off your backpack of burdens to the only One who can carry them. The One that has already carried it all for me & you.

  Surely our grief’s He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.
But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him. ~Isaiah 53:4-6

May this no longer be the truth...

“We live in a place where death is valued more than life” ~ Anonymous Ugandan

Saturday, September 12, 2015

August Update ~ Spreading the Gospel, Back to School & Saying Goodbye

Hello Friends! 
       WOW! August was just a blip on the calendar. So much has gone on during these past few weeks. We continued to host an outreach team from YWAM Kona this month and we were truly blessed by their time here. Many people came to Christ because of their boldness to share the gospel in the villages and refugee camp. We sent them off on the 15th and covered them in prayer as they headed back to the big island to debrief and prepare to head out in full time missions to Israel, Canada & Australia in the coming months.

      We officially started our school year here at Harper's Academy and just completed our 4th week. The kids have settle back in nicely. This year we have a 10th, 8th, 6th, 5th, 3rd & Pre-K (Charlie.) Levi starts back to the final term at his Ugandan preschool and will be promoted to Kindergarten after this term. We are super proud of all of them for embracing homeschooling, and watching them learn is so fun!

We are preparing to send Sydnie off to Muizenberg, South Africa where she will be at the YWAM base doing a Dicipleship Training School(DTS.) She will spend 3 months there for the lecture phase and then head to Outreach for 3 months in an unreached country(TBA.) We are excited for her, but also sad to see another child heading off on her own. Please be praying for her and us;)

Lacey has been in Gisenyi, Rwanda for the past month working with the ministry No.41 She will remain there through November to assist in keeping things running with the tailoring program and the Feeding Program.

The Discipleship Training School that Sid has been staffing is wrapping up and we have two teams heading out on outreach to Labone, South Sudan & Yei, South Sudan. Please be praying for these teams as they spread the gospel in unreached villages.

Below is a picture of our sweet friend Gertrude. She just graduated from the Tailoring Program here on the YWAM base. As an infant she contracted Polio and was left crippled because it. She had surgery 4 years ago to allow her to walk but has since grown, and was struggling with poorly fitting shoes, braces, and crutches. We were able to take her to a hospital about 15km away to have her fitted for new ones. She was so surprised and the smile on her face let us know how happy she was.

We continue to be amazed at how God is using our family here in ways we never could have expected. We hope to send out a video update soon. We thank each of you immensely for continue to support our family both prayerfully and financially. Without you this would not be possible.
     Gertrude trying on her new sandals and leg braces:)

    Proud of this girl! Just a few more days and she's off to South Africa.

                   Friends in the local village
Thank You for your continued prayer for our family as we serve in Northern Uganda and South Sudan. Please continue to pray for these current prayer points. Blessings to ALL of you!
  • Pray God will provide a teacher/tutor
  • Pray for our hearts as we send Sydnie off to South Africa
  • Pray for Health for the WHOLE family
  • Pray for Lacey as she continues serving in Rwanda
How You Can Help...
  • Prayer is first and foremost essential to our ministry. We cannot thank you enough for faithfully praying for us.
  • Partnership through monthly support or one-time tax deductible donations through our DONATE button below or via check to:
                 LINKS USA
                 P.O. Box 1223
                 San Marcos, Tx 78667
                 Re: Harper Family

Monday, August 24, 2015

Spreading Her Wings

Greetings from Uganda,
        We pray that this finds you and your families doing well. Below you'll find a letter written by our daughter Sydnie. Sydnie has just completed her final class for High School Graduation & she is ready to spread her wings! This child has amazed us in so many ways and we are so proud of her! She has graduated from High School early and is headed out in less than a month to attend YWAM(Youth With A Mission) Discipleship Training School(DTS.) She has been such a leader for her siblings since we ventured out almost a year ago to follow God into full-time missions. We have seen her grow in so many areas of her life and we are excited for where God is taking her next. Please read her request for both prayer and financial support and pray about how you might support her.

Thank you, Sid & Wendy


Dear friends and family,

        I hope that this letter finds you and your family doing well. If you find yourself reading this letter it is because you have touched my life in some way and I am so grateful for you. Over the past year my love for Jesus has grown & I am so excited for what my future holds. Living in Uganda for the past nine months has helped me to discover my love for the nations and my desire to lead others to Jesus. Finishing high school early has given me the opportunity to attend a discipleship training school to grow in my spiritual walk with the Lord. 

This fall I will be attending DTS (discipleship training school) in Muizenberg, South Africa with YWAM(Youth With A Mission). I will be learning about the nature and character of God, Lordship of Christ, Identity in Christ and hearing God’s voice during the lecture phase. The lecture phase is followed by a 3 month outreach in a country where I will put into practice all I have learned. My time starts in September 2015 and ends in February 2016. I am excited about what God is going to do through this 6 months.

Currently my goal is to raise both prayer partners and financial partners and I would love for you to be part of my team. Please consider how God might want you to be a part of my God story. I covet your prayers and I am thankful for your encouragement as I prepare to set off on my new journey.

Below is my financial need:
Airfare to South Africa-  $500
Total Lecture Fees-          $1850
Total Outreach Fees         $3200 
(including airfare)        
Total Need                       $5550
Donations:)              -$1460

*UPDATE*   $4090 Total Need

Thank you once again for all of your love and support during this new chapter of my life. 


Sydnie Harper

Prayer Requests:
  • Pray God will provide funds for both my lecture & outreach 
  • Pray for me as I travel to South Africa Sept. 12th
  • Pray that I will draw closer to God during this school & will learn more about reaching people for Christ
How You Can Help...
  • Prayer is first and foremost essential. I cannot thank you enough for faithfully praying for me.
  • Partnership through monthly support(Sept-March) or a One-time tax deductible donation through the DONATE button below or via check to:
                 LINKS USA
                 P.O. Box 1223
                 San Marcos, Tx 78667
                 Re: SYDNIE - YWAM

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

July Update ~ Encouraged

Hello Friends! We can not believe that July has already come to a close. It has been full of ministry, fun & a lot of love. We started the month off hosting the Gully team from our home church, Stonegate Fellowship. It was so wonderful to have a little piece of home here for a week. We took them along for local village ministry, did morning devotional at the local Compassion International school, played games with children at a preschool, took them along to our church and to top it all off the Gully's were blessed to spend the day with their Compassion kids that they sponsor. We were SO blessed by there time here and SO thankful for all the goodies that they collected and brought to us. Thank you to those of you that sent care packages we are so grateful.

After seeing the Gully team off at the airport, we had 24hrs before our family arrived for a 2 week visit. We spent the first week taking them along to much of the ministry we are doing here and the second week we took a much needed short holiday with our family, along with the Elkins family. It was so refreshing and everyone had so much fun! Our children finally got to go on a safari, our visiting family got to travel across Uganda, raft down the Nile River and some even bungee jumped over the Nile. It was loads of fun and after a tearful goodbye at the Entebbe airport we felt so encouraged and refreshed. We arrived back home to a YWAM Family Outreach Team from Kona that will be here for 3 weeks. They are serving locally in orphanages, schools, hospitals and villages and people are giving their lives to Christ!

In the midst of all the ministry and family visiting Charlie had an accident playing on the trampoline which resulted in a broken arm:( Because the healthcare is quite poor here in Arua, Megan & I ended up flying to Entebbe to have his arm seen to make sure it didn't need pins to align the bone. After a few days, 3 clinics & 3 casts he finally was left with a crazy heavy plaster cast that should work perfectly. We will get a new x-ray taken on the 25th to confirm it has healed before removing the cast. Thank you to Pedi Med Center in Midland & Dr. Dehne at Dell Children's for looking at the x-rays and confirming that his care was adequate. Please continue to pray for Charlie as he is missing Toby (his service dog) & now dealing with a broken arm.

Sid continues to be busy staffing the DTS (Discipleship Training School) that is now in week 8 of the lecture phase. Once lecture is over there will be two teams headed to South Sudan to complete the outreach phase of there DTS. God is doing great things in the hearts of these students. He also has become the base "fix it guy" Hmmmmm...... for those of you that know Sid, you know that this is no surprise. He is making a huge impact in the lives of the staff & students.

I (Wendy) wrapped up the school year with the kids along with loads of help from our oldest daughter Lacey just before our teams arrived. It has been a blessing to have Lacey here over the last couple of months to help with teaching the kids. We start back in just 1 week. Please join us in praying for a teacher/tutor to join us here.

Megan & I have been teaching women in the village about preventative health and have just started teaching the first group of women in "The First 1000 days ~ from conception to the 2nd birthday." This is a 4 session program that teaches women about health & nutrition during pregnancy, the importance of prenatal care, delivery & breastfeeding and family planning. We follow all of our teaching with what it says in God's word, and we work through the local churches. There were 32 women at our first session and they were thrilled to receive such important information and have an opportunity to ask questions. Please pray that these women will not only gain knowledge to save lives, but that they would see Jesus in us.

Gully girls sharing their testimonies with Compassion Intl. children. Teenagers encouraging teenagers:)
YWAM Arua DTS Students & Staff
Serving with our Family at a local preschool
Thank You for your continued prayer for our family as we serve in Northern Uganda and South Sudan. Please continue to pray for these current prayer points. Blessings to ALL of you!
  • Pray God will provide a teacher/tutor
  • Pray for Charlie's broken arm to heal
  • Pray for Health for the WHOLE family

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

New Direction, New Home, Mosquitos & Loss

           Hello friends! Hope this finds you all safe and sound. Since our last update much taken place in our lives. We have made the decision to stay on with YWAM and become staff here at the Arua, Uganda YWAM base. That being said we wanted to share with you a bit about YWAM.
                  YWAM is an inter-denominational, non-profit organization that was founded by Loren and Darlene Cunningham in 1962. YWAM's stated purpose is to "know God and to make Him known".
YWAM includes people from over 180 countries and a large number of Christian denominations, with over half of the organization's staff from non-Western countries. YWAM has over 18,000 full-time volunteers (staff) in more than 1,100 ministry locations. They train upwards of 25,000 short-term missions volunteers annually. Please check out

As staff we are involved in different ministries on and off the base. I (Sid) am staffing the Discipleship Training School (DTS) which started Wed. June 10th as well as serving on the compound maintenance team responsible for making sure things are “kept up” on the base.  As a DTS staffer I will be in charge of the budget, leading a small group and doing weekly “one on ones” with a student. The 1-1 is a vital part of the DTS where we form deep relationship with a student in the process of discipling. The lecture phase of the school lasts 12 weeks followed by 8-10 weeks of outreach in a neighboring country practicing the skills learned in the classroom.

Wendy is involved in a several ministries; Parent/Child United…..a weekly trip to nearby villages to facilitate a time of parents reading to their kids with the intent of building a stronger bond between parent and child (an activity that is not prevalent here). Additionally Wendy and Charlie go on Saturdays to Eruba Deaf & Hearing School where they minister to the children promoting inclusion of the deaf. The 3 hours there are spent playing games, bible skits and engaging in conversation with the students. Wendy & the older children will also be joining Megan Elkins at a local Clinic to help train the current staff in better management and care of the patients.

We really love the model of missions that YWAM provides and believe it is a great fit for our large family. Helping to train the next generation of disciples who will GO and proclaim the Word of God to the nations is really exciting! Our future plans are to stay in Arua approximately a year to train under the leadership as we have much to learn about YWAM community life, adjusting to culture and learning a new language. The next step as God leads would be to transition to South Sudan where God has called us to work on the Yei, South Sudan YWAM base. Beyond that we have plans and dreams but we know God will direct us as we take “the next RIGHT step”.

BIGGGG NEWSSS …….We have moved into our HOME!! After a 3 month ordeal with a house that we thought was “the one” we threw in the towel and God led us to our new home within a couple hours. Formerly a guesthouse…we will be making our home in this 6 bedroom house!!! YAY….Go God!

We have been in our new home for 2 weeks. We have had many trials but the Lord continues to be faithful, and although we have been weary we feel God calling on our family to minister here even more. The following is an excerpt from Sid’s journal:

“What a horrible week! Levi, Tate & I all had malaria this week and to top it off we lost Toby (Charlie’s Service Dog) to Tick Fever. Word’s cannot express the loss I feel. I cannot look at a picture of him without crying. I laid in bed and thought of him for hours last night and woke up thinking of him. We had a special connection. He was always there for anyone in the family and was loved by all. Lacey pointed out, Toby had unconditional love and was loyal to everyone of us always. She challenged us to be more like him in our daily lives to love each other more unconditionally. We accepted the challenge with great honor followed by a stake in the ground moment on 6/19, we declared Isaiah 54:17, Romans 5:3 and that we are children of the One True King standing in faith, believing in our calling and that we WILL persevere through the trials and tribulations. We held hands, prayed and ceremoniously stabbed our “stakes” into the ground and declared to remember the past but to move forward trusting and leaning on God for all things. He is our strength, our power – the reason we live – the reason we breathe – He is our All in All! He gives – He takes away – there is joy & sadness – tears & pain – But He is Worthy of it All! God, Thank you for freely giving to your kids & for loving us unconditionally! Lord help me to be more like you.  - To be more empathetic, merciful. – to give more grace to all. Thank you for being so good to my family – may all we do bring you glory Lord!

Sunday morning church at Elim Pentecostal listening to Dad preach

Missing Toby terribly. Please pray for Charlie & the rest of the family.

Meeting our neighbors

Scriptures that we have been clinging to:

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” ~Romans 5:3-5

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” ~ James 1:2-4

“No weapon that is formed against you will prosper;
And every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, And their vindication is from Me,” declares the Lord. ~Isaiah 54

Thank You for your continued prayer for our family as we serve in Northern Uganda and South Sudan. Please continue to pray for these current prayer points. Blessings to ALL of you!
  • Pray that we can eliminate the mosquito issue in our new home
  • Pray for Charlie as he is struggling with Toby being gone
  • Pray for Health for the WHOLE family
How You Can Help...
  • Prayer is first and foremost essential to our ministry. We cannot thank you enough for faithfully praying for us.
  • Partnership through monthly support or one-time tax deductible donations through our DONATE button below or via check to:
                 LINKS USA
                 P.O. Box 1223
                 San Marcos, Tx 78667
                 Re: Harper Family

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