So many people have asked us how they can help here in Uganda. We have been here long enough to establish some ministries outside of water that we are need of help in. This blog is written for several reasons, the first being to just inform you of things that are going on for our family outside of water. Of course, Water is still our main goal here in Uganda but we are loving to get to help out with some other ministries as a family as well. Some of these things you know about since I have talked of them in other posts and some of them are new opportunities. God has been so good to show us where He would have us “pick up” some extra duties for His Glory.
The first that many people already know about is the village church in Mutai. This has been a real blessing to our family. It has been a great way to be immersed in the culture as a family. Here at the church we help supply bibles. This is a great thing because many people cannot afford to have their own bible. We buy both English and Luganda bibles at one price and then sell them at a much cheaper price. We find that it is better for them to pay something as they will cherish it more but we make it affordable. We really take for granted having many bibles, when so many can’t have one. Luganda bibles are about $11 each and English bibles are about $8 each. We usually buy a case of Luganda bibles at a time and we sell them at $4 each (10,000 shillings). Just to give you an idea of how hard $4 extra can be to come by, several of the ladies I teach have been paying about .40 cents (1,000 shillings) every two weeks that we meet and still do not have their bible in hand.
At Mutai, as many of you know the Lord asked me to start a ladies bible study which He has grown by leaps and bounds. We have gone from 9 ladies to an average of 22. This is a blessing for sure, but it also comes at an expense. These ladies could not afford to come to me and with Doug working I cannot go to them easily either. What we do is pay their taxi fees for them to come to town and then travel home. This is about $2 dollars per lady for both ways. I also buy them a drink of water or soda while they are in town. This is also about $1 per lady. I am so inspired at how much these ladies want to learn and want to change. They tell me stories of healing and sharing their faith and it just warms my heart (as I know it does the Lord’s). They are an encouragement to me. We still meet twice a month right now, so growing is great but that is about $130 per month and I feel like God is just getting started. 🙂
A new adventure that has come about recently is helping kids go to school. School is a help and a hindrance here. It is also very confusing for me to understand everything about it but we are learning. The schools run on terms and there are three per year. You have to pay each term and pass exams to move on. They begin at nursery school and go through Senior 4, which is like 12th grade for us. Senior 5 and 6 are required before they can go to a University. As they get older some schools require you to board and of course that is extra. Every so often, you start a new school and you are charged an entry fee. Many people here have multiple children and they cannot afford for all of them to go to school. The higher the level, the more expensive it becomes. If you board at the school, they also have to supply a list of things for themselves. This is the number one prayer request from over half of the ladies at the study! They have no means to get school fees for all of their kids on top of feeding them. Right now, our family is helping 3 older kids go to school regularly and have helped many others with a one time gift to help their parents have all of the money. We have one kid in Senior 3 and two in Senior 5. The two in Senior 5 are from our church in Mutai. For one child to go all year and board in Senior 5 cost about $820 dollars (and this is a government school). As you can see to pay that on top of paying for younger kids to go is quite impossible here for most people. Our two kids have to board because the school is too far away from their home in Mutai. We hope to continue to help supporting the families that are close to us by helping their kids get a proper education. To do that we need your help.
One last thing that we have also tried to do with a couple of people, including our own guards, is to give a small loan to help them start up their own businesses so that they can continue to keep their kids in school, pay for their own school, or just keep their heads above water. It is hard for people here to save money. If someone asks and you have then it is their custom to loan or give without really questioning. The thought of saving money when you cannot put any food on the table that you do not have is quite unthinkable. The great thing about this is they are under contract and still must pay some of the money back over a time period no greater than a year. Also, it helps them be the over-comer to a situation they may not have had any control over.
We feel good about the things that God put in front of us and we know that He will provide to us for everything that He wants us to provide to others while here in Uganda. We felt like we were finally in a place that we knew enough about what we were doing to ask for help. Even if all you can do is pray for God’s provision then that is above and beyond what some of these people have. Even in the midst of the trials that are made known to us, the people we help have a hope and a joy that is only by the Grace of a heavenly father and quite frankly their heavenly father is the only thing some of these kids have. The song “I have a Father” has a whole new meaning coming from an orphan and to hear them sing it so beautifully will bring tears.
So we write this blog to ask how you can be a helping hand to our ministry. Maybe prayer is what you can give right now and we welcome that. Maybe you could give a monthly gift as some are already doing. We are grateful to those who began giving monthly long before you knew exactly what that money would go for and understand that many wanted to wait. Our home church, Mt. Airy Baptist, makes it really simple for you to do just that. You can go here and set it up for online giving or you can mail a check to the church each month at 210 Mt. Airy Church Road, Easley, SC 29642. Just be sure to put Doug and Jennifer Lawson in the memo line. This is tax deductible and then the church sends us the money directly once a month. Maybe your Sunday School or small group would like to pay one month of a ladies bible study or a box of bibles, you can also donate as a one time gift if that suits you best.
We really appreciate all of those who have given and pray that you are richly blessed. We also pray that if God is urging you to give in some way that you will not miss out on that opportunity to be a blessing to someone. A wise man once said “We are blessed to be a blessing.” Thank you for all of the prayers and support thus far and please do not stop. The enemy does not want any of these ministries to be successful but Our God is bigger and He will be the victor. 🙂