Sunday, July 11, 2010

Multiplied Mercies

One week ago I returned home from my second trip to Uganda. I have spent the week unpacking, tending my flower and vegetable gardens, and trying to get back on a decent sleep schedule. I don’t know why sleeping through the night is so difficult after that trip, but it seems my fellow travelers were all affected similarly.

Gardening time is also my thinking and praying time, so amidst bean picking and weed pulling I have contemplated blogging. Last year I blogged a day by day journal, which took a long time and, I’m afraid, tried the patience of both myself and my readers. So I have decided to approach it a little differently this time, and perhaps give you a better insight into the Ugandan culture, including what I learned from it, and how our ministry worked within it. So far I am planning six posts, but stay could be more or less, depending on how the Spirit leads!

In order to have a reference point for future posts, I will introduce you to our team and outline our itinerary in this first post. God multiplied the number of team members from four last year to 18 this year,

eleven of us from my home town!

While each of us participated in every activity to some degree, I will state the main focus of responsibilities for each team member. We couldn’t have had a better or more diverse team! The entire group worked well together and complemented each other in so many ways. We all remained basically healthy throughout the trip, thanks to many prayers and also the care of our medical team members. God was indeed merciful in keeping us all safe and healthy.

Jan Ross (Ohio)-founder of Heart of God International Ministries

Jeanice Coffell (Illinois)–co-founder of Heart of God International Ministries

Denise Matthews (California)–HGIM Director of East Africa Ministry –put the entire trip together!

Mark Matthews (California) –HGIM East Africa Men’s Ministry Director –planned Pastors conference

Me, Sharlyn Guthrie (Iowa) –HGIM East Africa Education Director –planned teacher conference and educational activities, worked with children at Smile Africa

Ben (California) –spoke at pastors conference and teen rally

Sylvia (California)–worked with children at Smile Africa

Scott (Texas)–spoke at pastors conference and remained in Uganda when the rest of us returned home

Aaron (Iowa)–spoke at pastors conference and teacher conference

Andrea (Iowa)–participated in teacher conference, planned educational activities, worked with children at Smile Africa

Wendy (Iowa)–participated in teacher conference, planned educational activities, worked with children at Smile Africa

Norma (Iowa)–participated in teacher conference, planned educational activities, worked with children at Smile Africa

Jane (Iowa)–treated and immunized children at Smile Africa and other schools

Cheryl (Iowa)–treated and immunized children at Smile Africa and other schools

Paul (Iowa)–spoke at pastors conference

Michelle (Iowa)–assisted with teacher conference, worked with children at Smile Africa

Emily (Iowa)–worked with children at Smile Africa, participated in teen conference
Courtney (Iowa)–worked with children at Smile Africa, participated in teen conference

God also multiplied our ministries through the special Ugandans we met last year, who brought us into contact with even more fellow believers and their ministries this year. Instead of three schools, we were involved with five. Instead of one church, we were involved with four. In addition to the seven teachers of Smile Africa, God allowed us to minister to 100+ teachers from both private and government schools. Besides the three pastors we met last year, God gave us over one hundred in attendance at the Pastor’s conference. We even had four more days added to our itinerary this year.


June 19-20 –Travelled from Chicago to Entebbe, via Amsterdam. Stayed in Lubowa Cottages and Gardens

June 21 –Travelled from Lubowa to Tororo
June 22 –Women worked at Smile Africa, men began the Pastors Conference

June 23 –Nurses, Sylvia, and Teens returned to Smile Africa, Men continued on with their conference, Wendy, Norma, Andrea, Michelle, and I prepared for and began teacher conference.

Joy measured all of us for dresses and shirts.
June 24 –same jobs as previous day
June 25 –Women worked at Smile Africa, men went to final day of Pastors conference. Women joined them at the end, sharing in the Lord’s table.

Denise and I were interviewed by the local radio station, concerning both conferences.
June 26 –Teen Rally

June 27 –Village Churches (we split into three groups, with each group attending a different church (Pastor Stephen’s, Pastor Amos’s, and Pastor Phillip’s)

In the afternoon we visited the Smile Africa Widows’ Shop
June 28 –Travelled to King’s Primary School in Bunambutye to watch their program, do classroom activities and hand out mosquito nets and bananas.

Visited Royal Palace Primary and Nursery School on the way home. Had dinner at Pastor Ruth and Basil’s house. Joy delivered tailor made clothing when we returned to the hotel.
June 29 –Said our goodbyes and travelled back to Lubowa Cottages. Stopped at the Source of the Nile for sightseeing and shopping.

Attended Saphan’s church service in the evening
June 30 –visited the women’s prison, dividing into four groups

July 1 –Spent the day at Early Learning Center. Children put on a program for us,

then we split up into five groups and spent time in each family group, eating lunch with the first group, then doing activities with each of the others.
July 2 –Spent the morning packing, had a visit from Sarah (a girl from home who lives in Kampala), went to Agnes’ home for a large, delightful lunch.

From there we visited Saphan and Alex's home, then went to the airport and waited for our 10 p.m. flight to Amsterdam.
July 3 –We had a 6 hour layover in Amsterdam before our flight to Chicago. We said our goodbyes, then loaded up in our two vehicles to drive five hours back home to Iowa.

Yes, God’s mercies were new every morning and throughout each day of this trip. He provided in ways that amazed and encouraged not only our team, but all of those to whom we ministered. He proved His character over and over again.

I was reminded today in the message I heard at the Austin Stone (we are in Austin, TX visiting our son, Travis, and his family) that acting on ones faith often results in great blessings such as we experienced on this trip, but according to Hebrews 11 it can also result in great trials and what many of us would term, "misfortunes." (Hebrews 11:35-37)

God is good, and my faith in Him is worthwhile, not because my trip to Uganda can be termed successful -that is simply grace. He would still be good, and my service to Him worthwhile, if I had suffered injury, imprisonment, loss of health or even loss of life during my travels, because neither Iowa or Uganda are my home. I am "...longing for a better country, a heavenly one." (Hebrews 11:16)

It was affirming to hear this message today, because I know that some have regarded going to Uganda on a missions trip as dangerous and even reckless. I prefer to think of it as being bold in faith (although I have never thought of myself as particularly courageous!).

On two occasions when I told two separate Christian leaders that I was planning to go to Uganda their response was, "why in the world would you want to do that?"

It is a good question, and one that I have pondered much. My answer is simply this, "because God gave me the opportunity and put it on my heart to go. His love compels me." I have never regretted my decision, nor will I ever regret it, whatever the outcome in this life. God's mercies here and in Uganda are only a taste of what awaits me in that heavenly country I already call "Home."

I hope that over the next few weeks you will enjoy reading my musings on how God’s bountiful mercies have been displayed and how they continue to multiply. My next post will be about homes and families in Uganda, and will be titled, "Home is Where You Tie Your Goat."


  1. Shar, I really missed your journalling of the trip. I looked for it and figured you decided to do something different. I can understand if it interfered with your time but I missed the whole experience of the children and those helping.

    It's still was an awesome account.

    Love and hugs,

    PS. I was looking for the chance of supplying fruit like last year. Or whatever the immediate need was at the time.

  2. Thanks Shari for the overall view and the inspiring words. I look forward to hearing more!
    With you in Spirit,


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