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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