Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16
This post is a hard one for me. Partly venting but mostly to ask for prayers lifted up. For us, for all missionaries who struggle wondering if what they are doing is matters. For our village and the entire country. Sometimes the only thing I know is that God has a plan for those around us and He put us here as His hands and feet. Sometimes my faith in that is the only thing that keeps me here. I could run away, lately I’ve wanted to run away from the struggles and the doubt that we are making any kind of difference but I can’t run away from the calling God has for us. There’s struggle and disappointment at times in everyone’s life.
This will be our third Thanksgiving to be away from family. I’ve been homesick for the first time since we came. It hasn’t helped that this month the mornings have felt like fall – and then gets to 86′ in the afternoon which is so much like Louisiana! We were in Jinja and saw a display with white pumpkins and I want my mama!
I am always encouraged by the children and their thirst to know more about the Bible and about Jesus. Another boy got his Bible last week and although not all have gotten their own I let them use one in Sunday School as we are learning through the book of the Case for Christ for kids to help us know who Jesus is. But….
Trying to get those around us understand why we are here, why we have the rabbits and goats is a struggle. All they see is a paycheck or think that we are an ATM. And maybe we are partly to blame that we haven’t been clear enough on our intentions although we try to get them to understand we are just tools used by God and everything we do is to try to lift this community up. Sometimes they see, as we are currently building new classrooms for one school to try and help them build it up and children won’t have to be boarded away from home. When they go off to school, parents are only allowed to see their children on one visiting day a term. And it is so expensive, they spend all their time worrying about school fees. Other times, as with the rabbits they believe we are here to make money as a business. So the full-time workers come to do their jobs, complain about too much work and the rabbit urine makes them so sick. Granted, it is not pleasant emptying the pans but it’s part of the job and it isn’t as bad as they make it out to be. We have prayed A LOT about the rabbits and I intend to talk about that in another post – I believe God is giving us a new direction. Maybe not the goals and intentions we had going into it but how He wants to use it. We – all of us – sometimes (often) start out listening to His intention but then get in the way of it with our own small-minded intentions. When His goal is so much bigger than ours.
This is going to be a rough week. Christian fired all of our full-time workers today. Well, he told them all to go home for a week without pay and don’t come back until next Monday to see if they still have a job. He sat them down, explained that we pay them more than they would at any other job in this area, but they were welcome to go if they can find a better one. We would be happy for them. If we hire more help (because apparently they work too hard) he explained they will have to start paying taxes, and that is on their monthly wages and the lunches and breakfast that is paid for on top of that. By law we don’t have to give them lunch money or supply breakfast. He explained what they would be left with. This is after having a meeting last week to put a stop to everyone, every month asking for pay-day loans. Every month six to eight times a month we have to go through this whole thing and say no. We explain the money isn’t there until the first of the month. It’s hard to say no. It’s tiring to say no. But it wouldn’t help them in the long run. We know from learning the hard way ourselves. They asked if he could just dole out a little of their pay as they need it! He told them to grow up, we helped them set up saving accounts, we deposit their pay. All they have to do is withdraw what they need as they need it. It all came to a head Saturday, we left Friday evening to spend the night and next day at a local hotel that has a swimming pool. Had a good day. Came home to hear a sixth goat in about four months had died. And that there was fighting among the workers and fingers pointed that someone was poisoning them. We were so excited a couple of months ago that we were going to get to give two goats to widows, we were trying to find two that the greatest need. There’s some reason they are all dying. This last one had a month old baby and because we were gone and they wanted us to see it, they left it laying dead from sometime Thursday night to Saturday evening. The baby beside it trying to nurse when we got home. Everyone here has goats and it is not normal for that many to die. They are fine one day and dead the next. They were also complaining that the work is too hard in the rabbit house seven and a half hours a day. Thirty minute breakfast break and an hour lunch. That was it. He told the workers that they may as well go take a widows food because in not caring about the goat situation that is what they have done.
Christian has been cutting all the lumber for three school buildings and roof for an office at another school, he’s been busy for a couple months with school desks and building a fence for the bulls and goats. I have been schooling Raelee and doing the things I have to do. So we haven’t spent as much time in the rabbit house, we have had a few visitors come to talk about rabbits and get advice but haven’t spent as much attention as we probably should have because we had confidence in the workers we now have in there. It was awful yesterday. There are a few rabbits that I knew were sick and was told a few times they were getting medicine. We are going to put them down tomorrow, they are beyond getting better. I found the medicine hidden, none of it used. Food bowls caked so much there was no room for fresh food. Spent half the day yesterday cleaning bowls, replacing hay bottles. A few didn’t even have food bowls. Today Raelee and I fed the rabbits, doctored rabbits and it took us two hours. Me and a seven year old. This evening her two buddies came and in about one and a half-two hours we cleaned all the gutters and emptied urine. About 250 cages. So close to four hours it took me, two seven year olds and a nine year old to do the seven hour workday work of three men. Twenty minutes of that was chasing an escaped rabbit – he’s still loose. And I cooked lunch and supper. It’s not easy work but it’s not back breaking either. I’m sorry but I don’t have a lot of sympathy. But I know we can’t do all that we have to do normally and take care of two hundred plus rabbits and five acres that includes at least two acres of crops. It’s going to be tough this week, but the boys asked me if they could come back and help tomorrow. Our chickens haven’t been laying eggs and nobody could tell us why. Six have disappeared. We went in to get eggs yesterday, there is supposed to be about a foot step down when you go in but the floor is now even with the bottom of the door. You figure out why. The nesting boxes are full of waste. We thought maybe the boys could help dig it out. But I asked them why they weren’t in school today and they said they were sent home because they couldn’t pay their school fees. I had one of them go get their mama and worked out a deal to pay enough to get them back in but they would come the rest of this week after school to help out. She and they were so excited. I told them I would be checking with the school master to make sure they didn’t skip out to come work, next week are exams and I don’t want them to miss. So we will have a little help. Christian is almost done cutting boards and our part time guard will be helping him on the grounds this week until we decide what to do. All this to say sometimes working for the Lord is hard, emotionally and mentally mostly. We know how to work hard, we can get through a week of it physically. The toll for all missionaries I think is living in a culture that is hard to understand, not seeing what we think progress (on our part) should be and being away from our loved ones. For us it is also only having each other to vent to and we are in the same boat! We still laugh almost everyday, we still have faith God is working even when we don’t see it. We still know this is where we are supposed to be. We know we aren’t the only ones that have struggles and disappointments and ours are small compared to others. Serving God isn’t always easy or fun but everyday I still say it is well with my soul. And that’s a big thing.
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? Romans 10:14