Update from Uganda

Dear friends,
Greetings from Uganda!
We’re still under lockdown (for two months already). Yesterday the lockdown was extended for 21 more days.
So I’m still staying with my friend Liz and her family 😁 I have a lot of time to think, read… I use every opportunity I have to bless the people around me.

Leez and her family:

Life in Africa 🤷🏽‍♀
when you want to eat chicken and have to slaughter it first.

The safest place to be in: the will of God

The safest place to be in: the will of God
Before they closed the borders in Uganda, the Israeli consul in Uganda urged all Israelis to return Israel as soon as they can, because of the uncertain situation.
A thought crossed my my mind – should I go back to Israel?
But then God reminded me that the safest place to be is in His will, and God put me here now.
I’m thankful to God for the privilege of going through this time of crisis together with the Ugandan people. It’s a privilege to support, pray, encourage, stay with the even when it’s hard, go through the storm together….

Shutdown continues
A few days ago when the 21-day shutdown expired, the Prime-Minister of Uganda extended the shutdown for 21 more days, until the May 5th.

Update from last month:
Mansur group
In the beginning of March a group of 4 young people arrived here – 2 of them from Israel and 2 from Australia. I joined them. We made a good progress with the school building, and they also made some videos for fundraising.

With the Mansur’s group at Alfreds graduation.

At Alfred’s
I stayed with Alfred and his wife Betty for 2 weeks. In the afternoons I spent a lot of time with their young 3-year old son Ebeneezer. During these 2 weeks I visited the nearby school, spent time in all the different classes (1st grad – 7th grade). I learned a lot about the education in Uganda, noticed the challenges and difficulties, exchanged ideas and experiences with the teachers, and also had a good conversation with the principal of the school regarding his duty at the school and the various challenges.

Staying with Liz
Right before the shutdown I came to visit Liz my friend and her family and stay over for a few days (or so I thought), but found myself staying for over a month after all, due to the shutdown.
I’m having a blessed time with the family. I’m learning lots of things: cooking over the fire, washing clothes by hand, building stuff for the home, language, day-to-day life.

Prayer requests:
There are 20 more days for the shutdown.
Many families in Uganda are having lack of food because of the shutdown. The government is giving out food but there are still lots of families in need.
Pray that the little food that the people have would increase and would be sufficient for them for the time-being.

I’d appreciate prayers for guidance and wisdom to know what I should be doing during the current times. How to bless others? How to help? How to meet people’s needs?

Happy Passover & Shabbat shalom!

Coronavirus in Uganda

The Coronavirus (Covid-19) has come to Uganda. As of today, there is nearly a complete lockdown, no public transportation, general transportation is prohibited, and all businesses are closed except for selling food. The borders have been shut a while ago.

Two weeks ago, a day before they closed the borders, two airplanes from Dubai landed carrying 400 passengers. Since Dubai was not listed among the Corona “infected” countries, they weren’t checked, and they continued home. The very next, they discovered that 8 of the passengers on those flights had contracted Corona. The 400 passengers from the flights where scattered throughout Uganda and refuse to be checked. Within two weeks, the number of sick people grew from 1 to 33… In order to prevent the continued spreading of the virus, the government has prohibited all transportation, including that of personal vehicles.

People here are worried about the impending hunger/starvation. The minute they shut down all transportation and shops, that automatically sentenced hunger upon hundreds of thousands of families.

I just wanted to remind and highlight what you have: an abundance of food, running water and soap that are readily available, the personal toilet room you enjoy within the privacy of your own home, your ability to lock your doors at night and feel safe, the ability to receive medical treatment if (God forbid) you need it. There are millions of people who live without these things, and if things continue this way it will only get worse.

I’m writing this out of a sense of deep appreciation that I am safe and full, and out of a huge concern for my many friends here and for the rest of the local congregation (church). Simply appreciate what you have, and pray for those who have not.

I am well, and am in a safe place with friends of mine in Mokono. I thank God for the opportunity to spend this difficult time with the Ugandan people, praying, supporting, and encouraging them.

Update from Miriam

Hello friends
Praying for you all!
Uganda has no corona, but neighboring countries like Kenya and Congo do have it. That’s why yesterday in Uganda all schools, universities and churches closed for a month.

A word of encouragement from Evan and Maala Thomas, Lev and Ora Guler

Monday March 23, 2020

“When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.” Ps 94:19

“Cast ALL your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” I Peter 5:7

These are the kinds of messages being constantly circulated amongst the local Believers within Israel to encourage and remind one another of God’s love and kingship during this time of crisis. This is so important to keep our spirits up as fear tries to find a foothold among our community of faith.

Nevertheless, these messages of hope and encouragement must also be given freely, wherever possible to members of the general public – our neighbors, those that serve us in gas stations, supermarkets and pharmacies. We have been called for such a time as this to be “salt and light” as Yeshua has taught us. The Apostle also instructed us through his second letter to the Corinthians that we are to be, “ambassadors of reconciliation…” that is, we have a vital role to play in the face of this pandemic. “Loving our neighbor” in times like these means being open and free to re-introduce them to a God that loves them.

Little did Maala and I know when we boarded the plane in mid-January for New Zealand that the world would so rapidly enter into such a challenging time. We blissfully thought how wonderful to be able to take some holidays after another big year of ministry coupled with our home building project. Then I (Evan) could settle back into writing with weekends set aside to serve local congregations and be an encouragement to their ministers. Initially all could not have been better – beautiful warm summer weather, walks in the forest, and plenty of fish to share with friends and family members.

Then the dark cloud of Covid-19 began to rapidly cover the globe and governments began to take action as evidence of this deadly virus hit nations like China, Italy and Iran and spread. Borders closed and restrictions on travel, trade, and social gatherings increased daily. Suddenly, the pleasant time out ‘Down Under’ no longer looked so pleasant – particularly when it was announced that our flights back to Israel were all cancelled. We instantly recalled that season 30 years ago when our daughter Sara was born in NZ and Scud missiles were plowing into Tel Aviv and our congregants were huddled in bomb shelters. The sense of being ‘cut off’ from loved ones in times of danger and distress is difficult to describe.

However we are NOT powerless! Daily communication via social media coupled with finding creative ways of conducting virtual prayer meetings helps enormously. God has given us sound minds and we choose not to be given over to fear. Our Lord is mighty to save! As we follow news broadcasts daily we see the patterns of conduct in the public sector and governmental regulations to try and curb the outbreak tightening. What was happening in Israel 10 days ago and shortly thereafter in Europe, is now beginning to take place in Australia and NZ.

This current crisis requires great courage and wisdom on the part of world leaders. They need our prayers as never before. Politics must be set aside and genuine care for citizenry must be paramount, whatever the cost. The same applies to the Body of Messiah. The shepherds must rally the flock. There is no room for ‘grandstanding’ nor passivity. We have good gifts, given by a loving Father – let’s use them for God’s glory and for the benefit of His kingdom.

Remember too that the rain falls both on the righteous and the wicked. So too, will this pandemic effect the lives of all of us, and for some time to come. Remember Paul’s words to the Philippians, “in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.”

We give thanks for Israel and its leaders who have shown tremendous initiative and bravery and acted quickly and judiciously to protect our population of 9 million. In this they have modelled good leadership for others to follow. They have been on the forefront of medical breakthrough to develop an effective vaccine against the virus. May the Lord use this time to bring Israelis and Palestinians to battle the threat together out of mutual interest and set aside animosity, as such times gift us an opportunity to.

Our prayers and concern are with all of you. In Te Reo, the Maori language of Aotearoa, New Zealand, we say “Kia Kaha” Be steadfast, Stand Strong! To Yeshua be the glory, Amen!

Blessings,

Evan and Maala

A few words from Lev and Ora Guler

 In his word of encouragement, my dear colleague, Pastor Evan, described the situation in the whole world as a result of the tragedy of the COVID19.

 We, I and Ora fully join his words of encouragement. For my part, being directly in Israel in the city of Netanya and taking care of the Beit Asaf community at this difficult time, I want to add a few words about what is happening here. Our government has taken a number of very important steps and decisions and imposed restrictions on closing borders, jobs and the ability to gather in groups of more than 10 people.

 Currently, the government runs companies to export Israelis from other countries and quarantine them. So recently, groups of Israelis were exported from Peru, Italy, Spain, and others.

 Also, as a local community, we have seriously taken government orders and, as obedient citizens, we are moving to another form of existence as a community. With God’s help and just in time, we managed to purchase and distribute 40 boxes with masks for forty families of the community the day before the restrictions were introduced.

This is me (Lev) and my youngest son.

Due to home isolation, our community changed the way of communication via the network. We try to record the Sermons and laid out for all members of the community.

 We see that despite the situation, the level of care of community members for each other and for their elderly neighbors have significantly increased praise God.  

  There is constant prayer and support for all members of the community. We believe that this tragedy is changing the face of the Beit Asaph community for the better.

  We encourage you in your situation in your country in prayer and wish you to strengthen, communicate and restore.

Blessings,

Lev and Ora

 

Highlights, Lowlights, and Changes

Highlights, Lowlights, and Changes:

☀The people I am with are amazing. Alfred and his family are helping and supporting me in my transitioning and adapting to the field. It is like a long hike: campfire cooking 🔥, bucket showers, and headlamps every night have become the daily routine.

☀The nature is wonderful, waking up with the rooster’s crow and going to sleep at sunset.

But there are also difficulties which the locals deal with each day and night. For instance, unwanted houseguests: small ones (malaria-carrying mosquitoes) and larger ones (mice and rats) which run on the rooftops and through the rooms during the entire night… 😬

I tried to deal with this for a month, trying to sleep at night, but with no success. We placed poison and brought a cat, but the problem is deeper. For this reason we decided that for now I will go live in Kampala at Alfred’s, and will teach in the local kindergarten until after they can do some serious extermination and kill the rats. This process will take time, perhaps several months…

In addition, I faced difficulties in the kindergarten on the mountaintop. There ought to be 3 teachers with 3 age groups, but they found only 2 teachers, and therefore combined two of the classes. In other words, one class had 40 children, and many times I was left alone with the class and tried to teach them or run an activity, but with communication difficulties. They don’t understand me, and I don’t under them. Hence, until they can find an additional teacher or a translator I can’t be effective.

The conditions at the kindergarten are challenging: there’s no equipment and the building itself is not entirely built: there is only a roof and posts. Hopefully, they will finish building the walls before the rainy season begins. Otherwise, it will be cold for the children because of the rain pouring in.

In light of these circumstances and conditions, we earnestly desire and pray to complete building the school below and to open it next year, so that the children will have better conditions.

Regarding my visa: I have a 3-month visa, and am still in the process of gaining a volunteer visa. If need be, it’s possible to extend the visa for an additional 3 months.

Thank you for your prayers and support.

Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be broken…

Updates from Miriam

Hi friends, few updates:
1. It has been a month since I arrived to Uganda, how time flies.
2. I’ve started teaching in a local kindergarten on tge mountain and it’s going well. I’m learning thr teaching system here and also bringing things from my own experience.
3. I came down from the mountain to the big city (Mbale) several times. It’s an hour drive from the mountain to the main road (by motorcycle) and another hour from their by taxi.
4. I thank God for His grace, as I’ve found a group of about 80 white people in the city. Most of them have been in a mission for several years. Last weekend I’ve met with few of the families and it was blessed and building!
5. In the end of the month an Israeli guy named Mantzor is coming with few friends. They want to make a short video about the school that we are building to raise money for building.

I love and miss you all ❤