Thursday 29 January 2015


I'm writing this article from our own terraced house in Cambridge with two jumpers and the central heating on and still feeling cold three weeks after returning to the UK.

As many of you already know, our time in Kasese came to an end with the close of 2014.  We had a big good bye party on Dec 27th (my Birthday), left Kasese on 29th and saw in the new year at beautiful - and peaceful, Jinja where the Nile River starts its long journey from Lake Victoria to the Mediterranean sea, and where we could start contemplating our long (but slightly quicker) journey from being Missionaries on the equator working amongst the lakes and mountains of western Uganda to being a "normal" British family in the unbelievably flat city of Cambridge - where, as I write it has just started snowing.

The process of leaving Uganda was made easier by our final week in Kampala, where we experienced sufficient bureaucracy, crazy traffic and annoyances (notably having our car broken into right outside the Ministry of the Interior) to make us very glad to be leaving and relieved to be returning to a country that runs more smoothly.  We had a great last day, however in Entebbe and were touched that all our team-mates came to see us off with a lovely day swimming at the Lake Victoria Hotel on a beautifully clear day beneath a hot sun which is already receding into distant memory!

So what happens next?

Well the most important thing is that things in Kasese should carry on.  We're excited and proud that BMS World Mission has employed both Moreen and Isaiah as "Suppported Partner Workers" on 3 year contracts starting this month.  Moreen will be employed part time to continue the Music Therapy and creative learning that she was doing with Bethan at Rukoki school.  Isaiah will be employed full time as KBAC-DC's Community Development Worker.  As well as a modest salary this contract also includes money for printing phone and internet use and petrol for the motorbike which was recently privately funded for him, therefore equipping him to get out and around the district continuing the good work which he has already proved that he can do so well.   In all this work he will continue to be supported by, and accountable to, the other members of KBAC-DC, especially the Chairman, the wonderful Rev Sitariko, and the Secretary, the now almost legendary Pr Alfonse.   Please continue to pray for them as they work together to help Baptist churches to identify community needs and to plan, implement, manage and evaluate development projects which will address those needs, improve the local environment and demonstrate the love of God for his people in practical ways.   For those of you who have supported us/BMS financially we offer our sincere thanks and ask that, if you can, you continue to support BMS, either to facilitate the continuation of the work in Uganda, now entirely under local ownership, or to support the other great work it does in 32 countries across the globe.

What's next for us?

I'm delighted to be able to tell you that God has really blessed us in the last few months.  I have an exciting full time job starting in April with The Leprosy Mission of England and Wales (TLM-EW).  I'll be commuting to their office in Peterborough for about 35 weeks a year and travelling to ll different countries across Central/Eastern Africa and South Asia for about 12 weeks a year working on supporting projects which help people affected by leprosy and other neglected tropical diseases.  My job title will be "Programmes & Advocacy Officer" with a particular emphasis on encouraging TLM Partners to make their projects more sustainable by promoting social enterprise and income generation within their work.

Bethan has just secured a part time peripatetic Music Therapy post with Cambridge Music Service, which is perfect for her, and Sam has just got a place at our local primary school, starting after Feb half-term.  Jonah is the most unsettled of all of us, as he doesn't really know where he is yet, having never lived in England before (apart from his very first 3 months, which he doesn't remember!).  However, like Sam, he loves having local parks with slides and swings to play on and has enjoyed playing with his cousins again.

People often ask us what we've learnt from this experience of living and working overseas as missionaries.  The long answer would involve hours of conversation, preferably over some great food and drink!   The short, but most important answer is that we've learnt to rely much more on God's love, provision and faithfulness.  Being a Christian and trusting in God does not mean that bad things don't happen.  Suffering and hardship in all their various forms are an integral part of human life, as Jesus showed when he paid the ultimate price with unspeakable suffering on the cross.  However, time and again, we found God with us, and with our friends and colleagues, at the points when life was toughest.  There isn't time here to list every example, but I can say with all truthfulness that there were more than enough occasions when rain was stopped, stuck cars were unstuck, needed money arrived without being asked for, knowledgeable and skilled people appeared with answers to questions or practical assistance, medical care was available on the 1 day when it was needed most, or in the 1 place where we happened to be at the time, official documents were signed and stamped just in time and encouraging messages and prayers of support were offered when they were most needed.  God works in mysterious ways, and usually through the hands, feet and mouths of his followers; we were privileged to sometimes be those hands for some of our colleagues in Uganda, and whilst doing so we experienced countless examples of others being those hands for us and for those around us. 

We probably won't be writing more on this blog, but thank you for reading, for praying, for giving, for visiting and for taking in interest in Kasese, its churches and its people.

May God Bless you, as only he can.

Gareth, Bethan, Sam and Jonah.

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