Grace Notes

We forget…He does not.

September 3, 2007 by Lissa Eggleston | 0 comments

March 25, 2004

Dear Jane,

Psalm 78 reminds us that we are consistent in our forgetfulness of the great works of our God–but he remembers His covenant forever.  That is good good news!

Mike downtown (Small) Casey is off from school today and so after the meeting to train mamas, we are going into Kampala to get haircuts. This is one of those times that brings such remembered pleasure to our days.  Mike has headed to Entebbe to pick up some mini missionaries who are making a second visit to Uganda.  We have had 3 flat tires in the past couple of weeks so I am praying that the patched tires will hold up for the journey.  Yesterday was full and busy.  We had a second interview with a woman that we hoped would be a mama in training. Effective interviewing is so difficult–the women are so desperate for the position that they will often tell us whatever they think we want to hear.  I don’t blame them.  MatatuMeetsCustomer (Small)This dear woman revealed under closer questioning that she is a single woman with an 8 year old child who is living here with her child instead of the child being in Kumi with her mother as she had told us on the first interview.  I praised God for her honesty and was thankful that we did not offer her a job that would make an orphan of her own child!

We also went to Nsambya Babies Home and saw 2 children that we hope can come live here in cottage #4. Over the past week, I’ve spent several hours with our new housemother Robinah Nafuna.   She is a treasure with depth of knowledge, both of people and of faith. She made me laugh so hard when she shared a story with me.  I had invited her to my home for a follow up interview.  Robinah&William (Custom) She got there around the lunch hour and since I knew that her journey on the matatu had been long and hard, I offered her a bowl of bean soup and some tea or water.  She asked for water probably so that she would not cause me extra preparation time.  I felt her eyes watching me quietly as I prepared her meal.  I noticed that she did not drink the glass of water and just assumed that like many Ugandans that drinking water was not her habit.  These folks have to walk long distances to streams and carry the water they need in large plastic “gerry” cans.  Since the water comes with contamination, they must boil all water for drinking and cooking.  I think as a result, they must think of drinking water as a costly extravagance.  DSC00223 (Small) Well, I had drawn her water right from the faucet, and when she saw that I did not “cook” it she was convinced I was a misguided mzungu trying to make her ill!  As she shared what she was thinking about me and these crazy foreigners in the village, I rolled with laughter.  What she did not know then and what will be a great treat for her as she lives here, is that here in the village we have a deep bore well.  The water comes up uncontaminated and immediately suitable for drinking!

Sophie I don’t know if I have shared that we heard that baby Sophie, who we are waiting to bring to Rafiki, was recently hospitalized.  We are not sure what is going on but we did stop by Sanyu while in town to check on things with her.  Joyce met us and took us into the lunch room where the children sit in those little chairs around the edge of the wall to drink their porridge. We saw Sophie but she looked so much smaller and weak.  As Carolyn talked with Joyce, I noticed a sign above her high chair that said “TB use own spoon and cup only!”  Things began to make sense about why Joyce had not released Sophie to us.  We had heard through the grapevine that there has been an outbreak of TB at Sanyu and we had been wondering if any of our children are infected.  They all had passed the TB serology tests but evidently they discovered through chest X-rays that some Sanyu children had the disease.  This throws many things up in the air for us–Carolyn is e-mailing the Rafiki pediatrician in Nairobi to see what we should do now. Well girlfriend, I need to move away from the laptop and get my mind ready for the mamas to come for training today.

gratefully yours,

lissa

P.S. Dr. Dan in Nairobi told us to bring Sophie as soon as possible so that we can get her treated for the disease. The treatment can take up to a year.  He told us not to panic about the other children that he would test them all when he visits in April or May and not to worry about it.   That was very encouraging.

For God so Loved the World

August 4, 2007 by Lissa Eggleston | 0 comments

October 22, 2003

Good morning friend,

The rain whipped through at 4:30 this morning and I got up to close windows and decided to stay up. You cannot believe how hard it can rain here and the ground, like a huge sponge, receives it all and grows everything into lushness! morning sky Some have said, “If you throw plastic on the ground in Uganda, it will grow!”.  Early morning remains the sweetest time of all the day for me–it is quiet and the sunrises are worth getting up for!  The heavens announce the glory of God morning and evening–it is a humbling display.

Today we leave for Jinja and I pray we will see things that are delightful and enjoy each other’s company.  Jinja is about an hour and a half from Rafiki village and it is a place run by a Dutchman who planned it to cater to missionaries.  There are very modest bando style cottages to stay in but the landscape is gorgeous and refreshing.sunrise4 uganda-map.jpgThe pace has been nonstop since we landed so it will be great to have some time to think on all that is and has gone on.   DSC00161 (Small) I know it is God’s help to me that my work here allows me very little time with James–I sense that there is a weaning of the heart going on.  I’ll miss his help with the kids, I wonder how I will pass his room and know that he may not return to this place.  JDSC00693ane, I am beginning to wonder how I will put him on a plane in Entebbe and let him go–there is an indescribable ache in my heart as I consider that. DSC00385 DSC00376 Yet even as I think that thought, this fresh wind blows in and I am reminded that the same God who pushed me off of one continent and onto another– and who provided for all that I have needed (can you hear Robert’s hymn influencing me?)  will not leave me standing comfortless. You can make yourself so sorrowful by rehearsing what causes your heart to hurt!  So, I am most grateful that this gift of get away time has come to us so that I can savor this young man’s company a while longer.

DSC00506 (Small) I began thinking this morning about Psalm 102:18–about the “people not yet created that may praise the LORD.” I thought about the children He will bring here over the years–they are not yet created but to Him He already has the plans for each of them in place.  How marvelous is this God?      DSC00518 (Small) dsc00427-small.JPG My friend I have had you in my thoughts and prayers today as well.  I have prayed for renewed strength for you now that He has seen you through ACTP and you will be refreshing the retreat talks for Myrtle Beach.  dsc00381-small.JPGI trust that there was much that He let you see and enjoy in the prayer retreat.  I hope there were people who sang from the same sheet of music with you and that God Himself stirred up hunger for more prayer in His people.  jamesgettingdirty.jpgJust think –if we were not so captivated by Christ and kingdom work–we’d have to occupy ourselves by taking bus trips to Branson, Missouri!  We have been rescued –we are set free to enjoy our Maker!  You are a cherished friend–until later, lissa

He Made me a Polished Arrow

August 1, 2007 by Lissa Eggleston | 1 Comment

Helen (Small) Helen Roseveare had just graduated from medical school when she moved to the Belgian Congo to serve as a doctor to local tribes. She built a hospital made of handcrafted bricks, stocked it with medicines, and for 12 years treated malnutrition, nursed lepers, delivered babies, and performed amputations.

Her work there was tragically interrupted with the onset of a bloody revolution. On August 8, 1964, the Republic of Congo was plunged into a civil war. That day marked the beginning of five terrible months of savage brutality during which 27 missionaries were killed, more than 200 Roman Catholic priests and nuns were murdered, and nearly a quarter of a million innocent African civilians were butchered.

Roseveare was rescued from the carnage, along with many others. She returned temporarily to her home in England to heal from her anguish and to share her story.

But when this woman known by the nationals affectionately as “Mama Luka” spoke of her experiences in the Congo, a provocative question repeatedly surfaced: “Why did God let you suffer?”

The reality of a missionary, who laid out her life to serve God only to be rewarded with cruelty and suffering, seemed incongruous. Routinely people in search of answers unburdened their hearts to Roseveare: a young mother whose baby drowned, a girl who was raped — people who lived in angst, unable to connect the dissonance of life’s experiences to the God of the Bible. Her answer became simply to share with them how God had given her faith and strength to overcome her own heart-wrenching trials.

paediatric-600Invited to address the question of suffering with a small gathering one night she first quoted Isaiah 49:2, “He made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of His hand He hid me; He made me a polished arrow;  She reached backward toward the mantel and eased a long-stemmed rose bud from a tall vase. As she spoke, she broke off the thorns, the leaves, the petals, the green outer layer of stem – every element that makes a rose and rose. All that was left was a lithe, straight shaft. The pieces that lay on the floor were not bad things. But, she explained, they had to be removed if she were going to make an arrow. God does this to us, she said. He removes everything – even innocent, good things – that hinders us from being the arrows.  He strips and sands and polishes so that he can shoot the arrow for his purposes at his intended target.”

Independence was declared in the Belgian Congo on June 30, 1960. Mutiny broke out in the army, the white population fled, and interracial relations crumbled. “It nearly broke my heart,” says Roseveare. “It wasn’t only in the upper echelons of government, it wasn’t even just in local government, it was in the church.” A colleague once told her, “Well doctor, we don’t blame you for being white. In fact, we’re really rather sorry for you being white. But at the end of the day you are white.” Her beloved friends no longer trusted her.  She prayed and fasted fervently, seeking God’s face for reconciliation.

Then came the rebellion and a terrible night that transformed her faith.

“It was a Saturday afternoon,” recalls Roseveare. “A truck drove into the village where I lived, and I could hear the noise from house of rough, angry voices shouting. And then two men burst into my home. That was the first indication I had that we were at war. “[The men] inspected everything and smashed a lot of my property, and then I suddenly realized that they were intent on evil. I tried to run away and hide, and they came with powerful torches, and they found me. They struck me, they beat me. I lost my back teeth to the boot of a rebel soldier that night. They broke my glasses I can’t focus on anything if I haven’t got them on. That was most frightening. When you can see them, you can at least put an arm up to take the blow. When you can’t see, you’re so defenseless.” During the course of the evening, Roseveare was badly violated by her perpetrators. “I don’t think I was praying; I was numb with horror, dread, fear. If I had prayed, I think I would have prayed, “My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?” I felt He’d left me. I didn’t doubt God. I never doubted God. But I felt, for that moment, that He’d left me to handle the situation by myself.

cg-150As these thoughts poured into her mind, Roseveare became aware of a holy presence near her. “I knew with every fiber in my being that God, the almighty Creator, was there,” she pronounces with quiet certainty, insisting that God never gives us evil, but takes what is intended for evil and makes it good.

During the pinnacle of her suffering, God spoke to Roseveare in a way that He knew she would understand and accept. “I believe the words that God spoke to me, although I didn’t hear them as words, were,

“Can you thank Me for trusting you with this, even if I never tell you why?”

You know, that’s shattering. You and I think of us trusting Him. But the thought that He wants to trust us, that was something very new to my thinking.”

He gave her the strength to say yes and she prayed, “Yes, God. If somehow, somewhere this fits for purposes, I don’t know how, but yes, thank You, God, for trusting me with this.” God did not take away the wickedness, the cruelty, or the pain. It was still there. But He turned her fear into peace.

Roseveare and her fellow missionaries endured faithfully that long and dreadful weekend. The following Tuesday the rebels returned for her. She was taken away by herself in the middle of the night. As dawn broke, they came to a village. The rebel soldiers had gathered nearly 800 local men into the village square. They had been told they would attend a people’s court in which Roseveare would be tried for the things that had occurred the previous week. At the given signal they were instructed to shout, “She’s a liar! She’s a liar!” They would then be asked, “What will we do with her?” The mandated response was, “Modecco! Modecco!” which meant “Crucify her! Crucify her!” The defendant knew she would die, although she did not know how.

The trial scene began.

“They wanted me to go through in detail in front of these 800 men what had happened the previous Thursday,” Roseveare says, an audible quiver in her voice. “I wasn’t going to speak up in front of all those men. They struck me over the face with the butt end of a gun; I couldn’t stand the pain so I spoke up.”

The moment of judgement came.

Roseveare couldn’t see her jury; her eyes had nearly closed with the swellings of the beatings. But she could hear. “I heard a sound I had never heard before and will probably never hear again. I heard 800 strong farming men break down and cry.

They were weeping.”

Now, instead of seeing her as the hated white foreigner, they saw her as their doctor.

“They have a word in Kibudu, which means “blood of our blood, bone of our bone,” she says. “They rushed forward and said, “She’s ours. Helen2 She’s ours.”

They took me into their arms and pushed the rebel soldiers out of the way.

“In that moment the black/white division disappeared,” she professes triumphantly.

“I can honestly say, right through till today, in that area there has never been a black/white division again. We’re all one in Christ Jesus.”

When she fervently sought the Lord so many years before, she had no idea that God would make her an instrument in bringing about racial harmony.

Why does a God of love allow suffering?

For Roseveare that question is, in itself, a contradiction. Love and suffering are inextricably linked.

“If you didn’t love, you wouldn’t hurt,” she explains, pointing to her exemplar as evidence.

God loves us so much that He gave His own son to the Cross. Because He loves, He suffered, giving us an example to follow in His steps. (1 Peter 2:21)”

In the years following the brutality that she suffered she recounted other thoughts that were in her mind as she was insulted, cursed and abused.  “Suddenly Christ had been there.  No vision, no voice, but His very real presence.  A phrase came into my mind, “led as a lamb to the slaughter”, one outstanding fact seemed to dominate:  For my sake, He went as a willing sacrifice.  Then, as swiftly, He spoke into my heart: “They’re not fighting you: these blows, all this wickedness, is against Me. All I ask of you is the loan of your body.  Will you share with Me one hour in My sufferings for these who need My love through you?”

She looked back later on this whole period and wrote: ‘We learned why God has given us His name as I AM (Exodus 3:14). His grace always proved itself sufficient in the moment of need, but never before the necessary time.

“He Gave Us a Valley”, Helen Roseveare, p.36,

“Arrrows in the Hands of God”, Challis.com, June 15, 2005

“Can you thank me?” an interview with Helen Roseveare, Tonya Stoneman