Sunday, March 4, 2018

Remembering — to Forget God’s Miracles is Unbelief

“The Lord said to Moses, ‘How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the miraculous signs I have performed among them?’” (Numbers 14:11)

The past six days are ones we should never forget; the miraculous signs of Jesus and his grace in our lives were evident and cumulative. Just over a week ago we wrote: “The Lord longs to be gracious to you; He rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for Him! (Isaiah 30:18)”

During Daniel’s citizenship interview in New Jersey this past Tuesday, he heard the sobering words from the USCIS interviewer, “You will not receive your citizenship today.” Thirty minutes later the USCIS Supervisory Officer at that same office told Corinne and Daniel that there was one missing piece needed: an application Daniel mailed over a year ago. This USCIS Supervisory Officer (Keith) further told us the application was in Vermont and filed with literally millions of other applications.

The miracle began with what Keith said next. Despite the "seemingly impossible” task to get the application from Vermont to New Jersey and have the application approved before our Saturday travel date, Keith said he would personally see to getting it done. Taking at least 20 minutes of his time to speak with us, Keith asked to exchange personal cell phone numbers and said he would communicate with us how it was going and when to come back to the office. We were beginning to think your prayers planted an angel in that USCIS office called Keith.

As the result was still pending, we asked and you continued to pray. At 10:00am on Thursday morning, we received a call from Keith describing his incredible and unexpected ability to find the perfect contact person in Vermont, who in turn miraculously located Daniel's application (among millions of other applications) and mailed it overnight to New Jersey. Keith asked Daniel to report to the Mount Laurel, New Jersey USCIS Field Office that same day at 2:00pm, with a 98% chance his citizenship would be approved and Daniel sworn in as an American citizen at 3:30pm. That afternoon, some from our family joined Corinne and baby Danny to share the tears of joy and witness Daniel's Oath Ceremony.

“And on that very day the Lord brought the Israelites out of Egypt by their divisions.” (Exodus 12:51)

This short verse describes something seemingly routine - if not embedded in the context of the miraculous signs God performed in the previous 10 chapters. Forgetting these miraculous signs showed contempt for God and resulted in the loss of rest in the Promised Land for all, except Joshua and Caleb, who witnessed them.

On Thursday, Daniel became a US citizen. This short sentence has a long and complex back story including years of your prayers. Thank you! We have experienced the miraculous grace of God together. 

After the Oath Ceremony, when we told Keith of hundreds of people who had prayed for this moment, he was not surprised. He told us how his staff scolded him for “giving us hope” after the Tuesday interview. Finding and retrieving that application, among other things, was a miracle.

We should never forget this week. “The Lord longs to be gracious to you; He rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for Him” (Isaiah 30:18). We together have asked, and we return to Uganda as a family of US citizens now - able to more freely travel in this ministry to which we have been called.

Remember with us as God calls us — as God calls you. Have faith in the future by not forgetting his past grace.

Daniel & Corinne

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Grace, Compassion, and Blessed Waiting

“The Lord longs to be gracious to you; He rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for Him! (Is: 30:18)

We thank so many of you who have petitioned the Lord for us many times regarding Daniel’s citizenship and related travel documents. We believe we are nearing the end of a long process towards US citizenship for Daniel, and for that we are grateful. We are still waiting on the Lord and asking you to pray. 

Compared to citizens of most other nations, international travel for US citizens is relatively easy. International travel is very important for a missionary and this is the primary reason we are working so hard on Daniel’s US citizenship; it would give Daniel the freedom to travel into and out of the US as well as open doors for travel to other countries. Nigeria and the US both honor dual-citizenship, so Daniel can be a US citizen and a Nigerian citizen! Moreover, Corinne and Danny are both US citizens, and we believe it would be wise to have unified citizenship in our family. 

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This citizenship process has been complicated by Daniel’s missionary work. An important aspect of acquiring citizenship in the US is the establishment of residency in the US. Typically people applying for citizenship are living in full-time and continuous residence in the US. Given our station abroad as missionaries, this is not the case for our family! An attorney hired to assist in the process suggested Daniel stay in America for two years without traveling abroad. This was not an option for our missionary calling so instead, we asked people (you) to pray.

And God has answered your prayers. After all these long years of working through the mountain of paper work, repeated applications, interviews, and biometrics appointments, we recently received a naturalization interview appointment in New Jersey on February 27th. On short notice, we were able to arrange for our travel on the 26th and then immediately return to our work on Saturday, March 3rd; losing just one week of ministry time. In his short 6 months of life, Danny will have logged more air miles than most travel in a lifetime.

But we are not assuming anything. Instead, we are asking for your prayers for God’s grace one more time to get us over this citizenship finish line. Please pray on February 27th at 12:30pm Eastern Time for Daniel’s naturalization interview. Pray that God would give Daniel favor and that his naturalization would be granted during the interview. For, “The Lord longs to be gracious to you; He rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for Him!” (Is: 30:18)

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Thank you for praying with us. If God wills, we will return to Uganda on March 3rd; a whole family of US citizens with all three of us having US passports. Blessed are those who wait for Him.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Groundbreaking + Announcement

In February, Daniel and his construction crew broke ground on the latest building project: the Good Shepherd's Fold (GSF) MK School Building. As the project began, the workers and GSF staff gathered together for a time of prayer.

It is a significant testimony to the communities around GSF to begin such a project with prayer. Animal sacrifices (and at times even child sacrifices) are fairly common in the region as a way of beginning projects. People practice these wrong things in an attempt to gain favor from the spirits in the projects they are about to undertake. Please pray that the Lord would use this witness to bring about change in the hearts and minds of the surrounding communities.

The construction crew has been hard at work since February, and they are making quick progress on the School Building.

Daniel sharing a few words before prayer at the groundbreaking

For this project, Daniel's crew received new hardhats, coveralls, and gumboots. The workers were so excited they insisted on having their picture taken. It's amazing to see how far some new PPE goes for worker morale!

Corinne welcomed a new baby, Joshua, into the Baby House! Joshua was just 19 hours old when he arrived at GSF. He did fairly well at first, but he fell sick when he was just under 4 weeks old. He was taken to Jinja, but his condition worsened and we transferred him to a more advanced hospital in Kampala. Many of you were praying, and the Lord answered and Joshua was healed! Thank you for those of you who interceded on behalf of Joshua. After a few days, Joshua was discharged from the hospital in Kampala and has continued to grow in health and strength at GSF.

Baby Joshua

In mid March, we attended a Global Outreach International mission conference in Israel. It was wonderful to connect and worship with other Global Outreach missionaries.

At the sea of Galilee in Israel

Our family is growing! We are excited to share that Corinne is pregnant. We are expecting baby boy Iya to arrive in late August/early September. Please continue to pray along with us as we go through these next 19 weeks and prepare to meet our son.

Baby Iya is "on the way coming"

It's a boy!

In late March and in April, we were in Pennsylvania in the US. It was great to spend time at home, including spending Good Friday and Easter with our CEFC family.

While in the US, we continued working on Daniel's US immigration paperwork. Daniel is working to maintain status as a US resident while applying for a reentry permit to return to the US for the baby's birth. It has been a challenge for Daniel to maintain resident status in the US while residing and serving in Uganda, but we're thankful that we serve a God whose greatness exceeds any legal system!

Prayer Requests:
  1. Pray for grace, favor, and wisdom for Daniel as he works through the complexities of his US immigration status so that he can get back into the US for Corinne's delivery 
  2. Pray that Daniel’s workers would know Christ and learn how to grow and mature in their faith
  3. Pray for the completion of the GSF School Building before June
  4. Pray for Daniel as he prepares to transition from GSF to Amazima this June
  5. Pray for wisdom for Corinne as she trains and disciples the Baby House aunties
  6. Pray for health in the Baby House, especially for baby Joshua
  7. Pray that the kids in residence at GSF will come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ
  8. Pray that the Sponsorship Program would continue to grow and provide needed funds for GSF
  9. Pray that God would use Daniel and Corinne to further His name in Nyenga village
  10. Pray for a healthy pregnancy and delivery for the new Iya baby due in August/September

Thursday, December 29, 2016

A Look Back

It’s the end of a year, and as we look back on all that God has done in the past 12 months, we are in awe of His goodness and faithfulness.

In 2016, Daniel completed the construction of two houses at Good Shepherd’s Fold, discipling and managing 29 young men in the process. One of the workers even came to Christ – hallelujah!

After the completion of the houses, Daniel took as position as Assistant Construction Manager with Amazima Secondary School construction project where has been serving since June. Twenty-nine buildings later, and they have almost completed the first phase of the project.

In the baby house, we welcomed 5 new little faces in 2016: Monica, Mary Grace, Isaac Kisule, Emily, and Akhilam. The addition of these five brought us to a total of 12 babies. We saw malnourished babies grow healthy and plump, little ones take their first steps, wordless babes now speaking sentences, and overall progress and love filling the home to create a safe haven for the babies to flourish.  The caretakers all went through the book Love Walked Among Us, and we learned what the perfect example of Jesus’s love looked like on this earth (and how we can love like Him!).

We hosted Mercy, Precious, and Jesse for a holiday homestay twice in 2016. We led Cord Groups for 14 of the young girls and boys at GSF. We taught Sunday School and counseled children going through loss and emotional hardship.

Corinne sent out thousands of correspondences between the GSF children and their sponsors. She signed up 42 people to begin investing in the lives of children at GSF through the GSF Child Sponsorship Program.

We celebrated Daniel turning 30, and with the help of neighbors and friends, were able to pull off a surprise 30th birthday party for him. What a beautiful opportunity it was to see our community come around us to celebrate and appreciate Daniel’s life and friendship.

Daniel had malaria twice in 2016, but he recovered and is healthy today. Praise the Lord!

We took a 3-week trip to the US and were able to visit family and friends while Corinne finalized the TBRI training through Texas Christian University. We traveled to Nigeria for Christmas (where we are now!) and were given the opportunity to speak at Daniel's home to church to over 1,400 people about the ministry we are doing in Uganda.

God has done a lot that we can see, and He’s done even more that we cannot see. We pray that God would continue to work in and through us; that He would complete the work that He has started in our lives and those around us.
"And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." Philippians 1:6
We are looking forward to what He has in store for 2017. Would you continue on this journey with us and be a part of what He is doing here in Uganda and beyond? We would love to partner with you and bring you along. Stay in touch. Email if you have any questions. And consider giving financially in 2017 to help our ministry in Uganda continue.

Friday, October 7, 2016

New Digs & A Quick Trip

God provided a new truck at just the perfect time for us. Daniel’s role at Amazima meant a longer commute that was fit for a vehicle rather than a motorcycle. We’ve kept our hands on the motorcycle and continue putting it to good use, but we love the flexibility of the truck that allows us to travel around during rainy conditions and after dark. We purchased a 1990 Toyota Hilux. Within 5 days of buying the truck, it had already been used to deliver 1 ton of cement and our neighbor’s baby. But that story is for another post.

New Digs

We moved!......approximately 30 feet away. Daniel and I shifted from a single-room house to a double-room house, exactly doubling our square footage to about 200 sq. ft. We have enjoyed the extra space, especially the amenity of a bathing area inside of the house (opposed to the open-air shared bathing areas that we previously used). We’ve been in our new digs since June and are enjoying the new home within the same neighborhood.

Teaching Opportunities

Amidst Daniel’s busy schedule working with Amazima and GSF, God has given Daniel a plethora of teaching opportunities. These opportunities have ranged from preaching at Light of the World and leading devotions at the work site to speaking to 30 students about our heavenly purpose on earth. Pray that seeds planted would continue to grow for His kingdom.

House Guests

Daniel and I hosted 3 children from Good Shepherd's Fold over Labor Day Weekend. It was so special to share our home and hearts with Mercy, Precious, and Jesse for several days. We thank God for the opportunity to have them in our home!

A Quick Trip

Corinne started an online course called TBRI (Trust Based Relational Intervention) Practitioner Training offered by Texas Christian University. The program starts with 10 weeks of online pre-course training, and it wraps up with a week of in-person training held in Texas. That means a trip to America for us! Daniel and I are heading to the States on Sunday. We will be spending Monday through Friday in Pennsylvania before traveling to Chicago for five days (Oct. 14th – 19th) and then ending with about 10 days in Texas (Oct. 19th – 28th). Although the time is brief, we are excited to see some of you and reconnect. If you are in PA, Chicago, or Texas, shoot us an email and we will try to meet!

Prayer Points

1. Please pray for us as we prepare to come to America. We are excited, but there are also last minute logistics and loose-ends to take care of. Pray for safety as we travel, sleep on the plane, and that God would multiply our time in the States. 
2. Pray for Daniel's work on the Amazima Secondary School. Pray that the process of construction would be honoring to God and that the project would be completed before the beginning of the school year in January.
3. Pray for Emily, our newest little baby at the GSF baby house. She is 7 months old and has a long way to go as far as development and physical catch-up. 

Thank you for praying for us! We are blessed by your support.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

The Grand Opening

The Good Shepherd's Fold (GSF) Staff Residences are complete! It was a tough going at times and hectic at the end, but the workers and subcontractors pulled through to accomplish a great finished product - to the glory of God. Throughout the process, I learned more about pushing people to achieve quality work while maintaining a good relationship with them.

Here are a few project facts and figures:
  • 1-Bedroom Staff Residence
    • 400 ft² living area
    • 250 50-kg bags of cement used
    • 12,118 clay bricks used
    • 4.5 kWh solar power
  • 2-Bedroom Staff Residence
    • 600 ft² living area
    • 346 50-kg bags of cement used
    • 16,782 clay bricks used
    • 7.5 kWh solar power
  • 16 workers went through weekly Biblical manhood study
  • 1 worker accepted Christ as his Savior

God stretched and grew me during the course of the project, and I believe He did the same for the workers. One way that I saw God move was by the way the workers handled their salaries. At the start of the project, I let the workers know that - for those who were willing - I could put aside a portion of their pay each week as part of a savings scheme. It would be well tracked, with no interest, and they would have access to all of their saved money. Keeping back some of their pay was not mandatory, but I encouraged them to practice saving some of their income instead of spending it as it came. That way, they could plan and have the money for larger expenses and purchases. And save they did! Over the course of the project, 21 workers saved 15.2% of the total payroll. They used their savings for various things, including harvesting their farms, buying new bicycles, paying their kids' school fees, paying their siblings' school fees, paying their own school fees, and supporting campaigns for local political office. One worker even saved his money in order to pay the hospital bills for his new baby!

Here are a some pictures from the project finish:

UltraTec installing the solar water heater
Paddy grinding some terrazzo kitchen countertops  
Plumbers and others hard at work
Robert the carpenter hanging doors
Bukenya the electrician completing his wiring
Kaiga and Muwonge preparing a back verandah for screens

It was encouraging to see the employees rally together to complete the project on time. Once the project was completed, I held an appreciation party for all the workers. We gathered in one of the new houses and Joseph, the foreman, was our esteemed Master of Ceremonies. After an enthusiastic time of singing praise songs, Cody - one of the new homeowners - gave the workers a heartfelt word of thanks. I also thanked them and encouraged them in their work and faith. After that, there was great food and fellowship all round!

Giving each worker a small gift
Cody speaking to the construction workers
The GSF kitchen staff prepared a nice meal for the workers

Several of my workers took the opportunity to stand up and give testimonies. One of the masons, Musa, had an especially powerful testimony. Musa is a Muslim, but he thanked me for going through the Biblical manhood study with them. He said that going through the study made him understand what it means to be a man, which he can use in his life now. Musa added that he had worked for other kinds of managers before, but this time it was different - in a good way. So much so, in fact, that it made him consider switching and becoming a Christian. Praise God for His witness to this man through the construction project.

The whole crew on the front verandah of their work (Musa is pictured far right)
The workers put some of their savings toward buying
the Foreman and me appreciation gifts - live chickens!

Following the appreciation party, we had a grand opening when GSF staff came to tour the new houses. We ended the project in the same fashion that we started it - by dedicating the houses to the Lord.

Foreman Joseph giving GSF staff members a tour
GSF staff, construction workers, and visitors gather together for a prayer of dedication
The 1-Bedroom Residence
The 2-Bedroom Residence

Now that the Staff Residences are complete, I have been seconded to Amazima Ministries International to help with the construction of their new Secondary School as the Assistant Construction Manager. For the next several months, I will assist in quality inspection through the completion of the project. Amazima is a wonderful ministry, and I am honored to be serving with them for the time being!

The Amazima School site

Thank you for your continued partnership and prayer support! Here are a few specific ways that you can be praying for us:

1) Pray for the Lord to continue to work in Musa's heart and life, as well as the other workers.

2) Pray that Daniel would be able to minister to the Contractor employees at Amazima. Also pray that the School project would be completed in time!

3) Pray for Corinne and she seeks to grow the sponsorship programs, in particular the Class 2 Class program.

4) Pray for the baby house as they recently took in a new little baby boy, Kisule! He is doing well so far, but pray for continued growth and strength.