Cleaning out files gets me every time.
There among the old catalogues (discard!) and two-decade-old receipts from Nairobi (burn!) I discover a treasure that melts me into tears.
Emails. The first emails we received in Uganda in 1995.
Email was brand new then. A mystery to me. Mission Aviation Fellowship hosted an email service used by many missionaries in Uganda. We would send our emails to MAF’s computer system which would store the messages and then relay them several times a day to Europe and then on to the U.S. Power outages, poor phone lines and bad weather could hinder the calls making the messaging sporadic, but it was still so much faster than regular mail.
Before we settled in Fort Portal and acquired our own account, our missionary friends in Kampala blessed us by receiving messages for us. The messages were usually printed on scratch paper for us to collect when we visited.
In the stack I uncovered today were letters from my Dad, Mom and sister. From Jeff’s Mom and brother, Mike and sister, Kristi. From Joe Sasser (tears!) and Danny Carrigan (seriously—you wrote us an email once!) From Clint and Cathy West (messages that STILL make me laugh!)
And from Allan, our always computer-savvy brother-in-law, who gave us various suggestions on ways to improve our email access and spoke offhand about his hours ‘surfing the web’. We had no idea what he meant by that (smile).
The messages are full of details. A fire at LCU. Friona. Wade’s family is so great! Wedding plans. Church news. Mack’s latest cuteness. Mike’s job. News about sweet baby Sierra. Jeff’s parents’ upcoming trip to Uganda. Who had been seen and sent their love to us. Questions about our days. Did we have the truck yet? When would we officially settle in Fort Portal? Where would we spend Christmas?
We all expressed our wonder.
“Can you believe I can type this message into a computer AT MY HOUSE and you can read it IN UGANDA in the same week I wrote it?!!!”
Kristi predicts, “Just imagine what communication will look like in 10 years! Maybe you will be able to get messages on the very day we write them!”
I am struck in the reading of those words, at how far we have come. Not just technologically.
We were only beginning, back then, to feel all this distance. And even though the grief was fresh and painful raw--
Every. Single. Message. Said how very proud they were of us. How very much they were praying.
How very much we are loved.
This venue of service has isolation programmed into it. Our differences (language, skin color, accent, experiences…) manifest in many flavors of lonely on both sides of the pond.
We can feel very Separate, and even, to some extent, settle into that ‘Other’ place accepting it as consequence and inevitability.
But into the Disconnect (perceived and real), we have found His Promises accompanying and persistent.
No one serves alone.
It is breathtaking how our Faithful and True kneads encouragement into our everyday.
Today, it was an impetuous 30-minute cleaning spree.
I set out to discard and make some more space—instead I rediscovered something we will always keep.
I had an unexpected and very sweet ‘visit’ with those who have known us always. With friends who prayed us into this endeavor and with those who still support us now.
I was reminded of relationships that hold.
And the gift of old friends.
Mostly, I felt overcome with the love of our families.
I am so thankful for our parents and our siblings and their spouses. Who pray. And believe. And release. And welcome.
Over and over again.
This part of the world is impacted, for Christ, by each of those Dear Ones.
We can stay because they have surrendered too.
Reminded poignantly of that today.
And blessed by the fellowship. Again.
So very grateful.