It's a new year, and our furlough is drawing to a close. We've had a wonderful few months here in the United States. We've spent holidays with family. We've spent quality time with friends. We've rested and enjoyed things we don't have in Uganda, like Goodwill half-price Mondays, Chik-Fil-A, unlimited internet, smooth roads and organized traffic, berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries), Panera Bread Co. (basically our office), Animal Planet and Nat Geo, anonymity in public, and the changing of the seasons. There have also been difficult things, like waiting at red light after red light, traveling out of town most weekends, the overwhelming focus on food (eating and dieting), the bombardment of advertising, the craze of personal electronics and social media, the political hype before the elections, the impersonal neighborhoods, the immodesty of current fashions, and the expectations of being a 'returned missionary'. So there have been ups and downs, but overall it's been a much-needed, much-appreciated change of pace and scenery.
As we head back to Uganda, we want to make relationships more of a priority: relationships with the Ik and relationships with other expatriates. We want to renew our efforts to learn to speak Ik fluently and to regularly visit Ik villages in the evenings. We want to invest more in relationships with other Christians so we can encourage and challenge each other. On the work front, Terrill wants to get the three Ik translators (Philip, Daniel, Sylvester) going on translating more Scripture. He also wants to finish writing the grammar of Ik and print a dictionary. He wants to start an exhibit of Ik cultural items in the language office and spend more time with Ik to know what their lives are really like. On Amber's side of things, she wants to teach health education lessons to the kids in elementary school. She wants to expand her ministry of visiting patients in outlying villages. She also looks forward to distributing the many clothing items donated for the Ik (especially children).
All these plans and dreams, though, will amount to little if not done in the spirit of Christ. More than anything else, for 2013 and beyond, we want our life and work among the Ik to be less and less about us and more and more about Jesus. The temptation for us to build our own little kingdoms is great, especially since we have to be self-sufficient in many ways. So our hope and prayer for 2013 is that God will continue to humble and minimize us so His great loving faithfulness can shine through. And that this great loving faithfulness will capture the hearts of the Ik and make them new.