Wow, December has been such a busy and great month. November was too…but that was last month. Today, we’re focused on December!
The first week of December was our theological classes, MTI. This was the first time since May that we’ve been able to have full classes, due to lockdown and Covid restrictions, so we were overjoyed about the opportunity. We had a total of 30 students come for teaching, discipling, and sharing.
During the week of MTI, our family also had some celebrations. Adalyn has been taking a dance class from a missionary here in Mbale since September. They worked so hard over the past few months, even overcoming practice cancellations due to Covid, to put together a lovely Christmas Dance Program. In all, there were 12 dance routines, six of which Adalyn participated. She went into dance a little reluctant, but in the end, she thoroughly enjoyed it! She persevered and reaped the blessings! It was also really fun for us to watch our beautiful little girl shine and enjoy something that isn’t usually her cup-of-tea.
That same week we celebrated Christmas with our staff at our home. We are so blessed by these men and one woman, who keep us safe, cared for, prayed over, encouraged, and fed. Many of these people have been with us for years and feel very much like family, though some are new to the Sawyer Clan. In Uganda, “brotherhood is eating” so we had a feast – chicken, beef, matooke, rice, sweet potatoes, chapati, vegetables, fruit, and a big cake! We played games together and laughed a lot – we taught our staff how to play Giant Jenga, washers (for my Texas peeps), and Bocce Ball; while we also had to include a game of football (that’s soccer for my Texas peeps).
Immediately following that, Peace and I set out to visit some of the churches we work with that are at a great distance. We were accompanied by a church leader, John Buyinza, from our area that we have previously discipled. The journey took 9 hours to drive…each way. We even crossed into a different hemisphere! But the trip was a great encouragement to us and to the churches, so it was worth the drive! We visited six churches there. Many of these churches have been constructing new, permanent structures to meet in. It was a joy to celebrate what God had done to and through them in construction, but more importantly what He is doing in them through DBS groups and discipleship. We were thankful for the opportunity to visit them.
Immediately following that trip, one of the discipleship groups met for the last time. It has been a four year journey meeting with these men each month (we received some “bonus” months due to Covid lockdowns) and I can tell you story after story about the growth I’ve seen in them. I’m so thankful to God for what His Spirit is doing in their lives, families, and churches; and I consider myself blessed to know them. While the spiritual journey continues for each of us, the next chapter is focused on each of them making disciplemakers in their homes and communities. I am praying that God will use them for even greater things than we can imagine!
Our Mission staff also had a Christmas party (of course…December is the month of parties)! We gathered everyone together for a giant meal. Security staff, cleaning staff, book-keepers, ministry staff, grounds-keepers, and even the cooks (who were thankful they did not have to cook this meal) all enjoyed a feast together. Again, we had chicken, beef, fish, matooke, rice, sweet potatoes, yams, chapati, millet bread, vegetables, fruit, and a cake (I’m telling y’all…we know how to feast here). Thanks to many of our supporters, we were also able to bless the staff with a Christmas bonus to appreciate their work throughout the year!
Gina was also able to celebrate her friends with a small Ladies Retreat to Sipi Falls. This group of ladies meets regularly for prayers, encouragement, laughter, swimming (with and without kids), coffee, sewing, shopping, and general life. They have helped sustain one another through two years of on-again-off-again lockdowns and restrictions, and through which they have a special bond. But one of these ladies is visiting America for the next six months and another will be moving back to America during that time, so this is the last opportunity for all five of them to be together. It was a blessing!
Otherwise, December has just been moving along! It’s only mid-December but feels like a year’s worth of fun has been going on. We’ve enjoyed our usual Christmas decorations and movies, loads of Christmas treats, and we are looking forward to a Christmas holiday as a family. We have so many reasons to celebrate this year!