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Short-Term Work, Long-Term Mission

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Posted Sep. 12, 2018

I wish that I didn’t have to write this post because that would mean I wasn’t leaving Uganda.

Catherine and Ryan with Irene's familyIrene’s sweet family that hosted us.

As I think through the last two months, the song “Counting Every Blessing” by Rend Collective is strong in my heart.

Cooking with Irene's familyIrene’s family had us over to cook a genuine Ugandan feast!

“I am counting every blessing.”

I don’t think it would be possible to put a number on the blessings that the Lord showed me during my time here. A few of the lead pastors from the church we attended hosted our final dinner in Lira, and they asked what God had taught us while we were in Uganda. A few years ago a great friend of mine told me that sometimes you have to let other people be a blessing to you, just like I try to be to them. It is not easy for me to let other people serve me, but I cannot tell you how many times God showed himself in the faces of those extending a blessing to me. From the prayers made for us, to the chickens, pumpkins and fruit so graciously given to us, to the food served in the villages by families that took it off their table to feed us: I count these blessings of fellowship with our many dear friends whom I pray to see again someday. Weather, safe travels and good friends are among many more of the Lord’s gracious blessings.

Ryan holds a chickenDinner included a few chicken that was given to us from one of our small holder farmers.

“Letting go and trusting when I cannot see.”

While coming to Uganda was a practice in trusting the Lord, when you think of it two months is no time at all when looking for long-term results. I think Ryan said it best: “We are just doing short-term work for a long-term mission.” The more that I’ve learned about the creation of Field of Hope and work it is doing, the more I’ve realized that you’d be lying to give credit to anyone other than the God of the universe.

Students working to install the irrigation systemSome students from Gulu University came to help install irrigation and were excited to have hands-on experience.

“Surely every season you are good to me.”

In East Africa there are two seasons: the rainy season and the hunger season. Moving to Stillwater to go to graduate school has been a bit of a hunger season for me. I’m not sure you’re actually in grad school if you don’t have at least a few breakdowns and wonder why you voluntarily signed up to pay more money to be in school longer without any guarantee it will help you find a job. Even though this season hasn’t been all sunshine and daisies, the Lord has still been SO good to me and the last two months have been a big reminder of that. God being good to you doesn’t mean that things will go smooth and steady every day. God being good to you means that he sent his one and only son to be your savior so that no matter how this life on Earth may go, there is a heavenly kingdom just waiting to welcome you. The best part? It’s all by his grace and not our doing, which means that no matter what kind of season you’re going through, he is still good.

Students help to place pipe in the ground for the irrigation systemWe installed a new irrigation system at Ottino Wa that put everyone to work.

Master of International Agriculture Program at Oklahoma State University, Noble Research Institute and the Humphreys: You have all been a blessing to me in more ways than I can count. It is only by your support that I could have even dreamed to do this internship.

Mom and Dad: Last year you said, “You can go anywhere as long as it’s not somewhere like Uganda.” I’m sure you aren’t the first parents to have said that based on news from the past. Thank you for having an open mind and supporting me to be a part of something far bigger than myself.

Field of Hope: To you I owe so much. You are running the marathon in this greater mission, and I pray that you do not stop until it is unquestionably clear that it is time. Uganda is crying for a change, and you are providing the tools and force to make that happen.

Now I am in the airport with my last glass of pineapple juice and a heavy heart. I don’t think you can go on a trip like this and come home to do the same old thing. So as I jump back into work, classes and wedding planning, I pray that God will show me how to be a part of his long-term mission in Stillwater and wherever else he will lead me.

Catherine Rutan
2018 MIAP-Noble Fellow