Monday, 1 February 2010

Prayer letter for January

Here's my prayer letter for January! I know not everyone gets it, so I'm happy to post it here, but if you would like the full PDF version in the future, or even a copy of this one, just let me know.

Dear friends,
It’s been a while, and for that I apologise! It’s very easy to get caught up in life here, but it does need recording, and for that I have all of you to remind me to do so.
During these past few months there have been joyful times, easy times and moments when all I’ve wanted to do is run into the arms of Jesus and disengage from the world. Thankfully, I have a saviour who allows me to do the first but not the second!
Working at the lab has been wonderful. The staff have embraced me as one of their own and I am continuing to make good friends there. The work is hard, both in a technical and emotional sense, but I’m learning fast and as I become proficient in each technique I’m both left to my own devices to do that and immediately taught something new. We’re very understaffed, so praise God I can add an extra pair of hands. I can now work independently in both immunology and phlebotomy, and this month I will move on to haematology and blood parasitology. This morning I learned how to diagnose malaria! However, soon we will begin a new drug trial, which will give us double the work and no new staff.
I am continuing to try to pray for those people we are working for. They are all HIV positive, and though my job is clinical I have very little contact with patients, so giving them up to the Lord is something I feel responsible to do. We hear heartbreaking stories daily, and I am continually reminded of how devastating HIV is on individuals, families and communities.
The 1st of December was World AIDS Day, and during that week we at the lab went out to a village to do HIV counselling and testing, and participated in an HIV commemoration parade (see picture) which also included counselling and testing. Both were exhausting days, working almost non-stop, but the joy of knowing 200 or so more people now know their statuses and can do something about it made it worth it.
All of this was made very personal and real to myself and the rest of the team at the beginning of January. We lost a very special little girl to AIDS, our lovely Amy Jerusalem. She had been abandoned at the hospital and fostered by the Ward family (a family from NZ who work in agriculture and also take in abandoned babies) until her adoptive family could return from the US. We had her with us for a little less than 2 months, and though we are shattered to have lost her, every moment we had her with us, every moment we could be family to her when she had lost her own, was precious. In the last few days of 2009 she began to go downhill, and was admitted to hospital. We praise God that she was able to meet her adoptive parents, and thank Him in His sovereignty for taking her to be with Him and ending her pain. She was our beautiful little angel, and I ask that you join us in thanking God for her short life with us.
At the beginning of January we were at the AIM central region conference, where I was able to meet more long-term missionaries and hear their amazing stories. It served to get me more and more excited at the prospect of overseas missions as a career, and my thoughts keep reverting towards that possible future.
My time spent with the students at the university is continually rewarding, and they teach me as much as I teach them. The group of girl students Lindsey, Susan and I meet on Saturday afternoons continues to grow and their honesty with each other and love for Jesus blows me away. This is a culture that expects a lot of wrong things from girls their age, so their perseverance in staying pure and faithful to God is inspiring. We had an end of term party in December and somehow managed to fit 20+ girls into our small living room for pasta and DVDs, and though many of us could hardly breathe, I don’t think I’ve had so much fun since I arrived in Uganda!
I am meeting with more and more girls one-on-one, and something I notice is lacking here is both a leadership from outside of the university offering friendship and guidance, and a network of confidentiality and care from within. Many are opening up to me with secrets and problems they have never shared before, and helping them with these is a burden I am willing to take on though I will need God’s grace to do so. Often there is nothing I can say to help, but being the first person to pray through a problem with someone is a huge privilege. However, I hope to see them come to be this kind of friend to each other before I leave.
We were burgled over the Christmas holidays, and though nothing too valuable was taken (except my suitcase, and I really have too much ‘stuff’ to take home anyway!), it has left us feeling unsettled and insecure in our current accommodations and we are having to think about making improvements to our accommodations to make them more secure. This has come at a very busy time, and when money is very stretched, so please pray that God will provide somewhere safe for us to live!
I would like to thank all of you for your support. Thank you for sending me to this place, and I am so glad that God chose to bring me to Africa by relying on you. You are all dear to me, and I have been well aware of the fruits of your prayers in the past months. I would like to humbly ask that you please continue!
So, to sum up, please pray for:
·      A continued trust in God while experiencing the devastation that HIV is wreaking in Uganda - Especially for the team as we mourn the loss of Amy, particularly the Ward and the Kehn families
·      The growth of a network of confidential friendship between the girls I work with, and God’s grace as I attempt to supply that need while they learn to be that for each other
·      My thoughts for my future, that I will continually bring them before God and yet still be focused on the present
·      That our house can be quickly made more safe and secure, and the funds to do so will be made available
Thank you!

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