Tomorrow we will have been home for exactly 5 weeks since our last trip. So it’s been that long since my last blog post. I’m slipping…..but here’s me, getting back on the wagon. It seems I am the most consistent writing when we are traveling – mostly when I’m at an airport or on a plane. Which I haven’t been, well, for 5 weeks. Thankfully I did manage to get our December ministry update written so there’s that. If you’re interested, you can find that here: December 2019
I still plan to blog about our time in India, and I did attempt to upload those photos, but our doggone internet frustrates me into quitting. I know, a lame excuse. But another hindrance has been some very sad events, which I really want to write about before anything else. But writing about sad things isn’t my favorite, so….
The first stop on the trip I referred to above was Uganda. It was such an amazing time that I wrote 3 posts about it, the first one being on November 2. ‘Niger to Uganda’ You may remember that we went there to spend time in ministry and fun with our long time friend, Pastor David Mporampora. And when I say long time, I mean he’s been friends with this family since the 1970’s. He was choir director at Church of God Mission when Neal lived in Nigeria. He considered Neal’s parents his own. He sang at our wedding over 30 years ago. And finally, he visited us in Niger in April last year, and then he invited us to visit him and we began planning right away.
Fast forward to November 1st, 2019, our first time to visit Uganda. While in Niger, Pastor Dave had been bragging about what a beautiful country it was, as we laughed about the contrast between Uganda and Niger (aka desert). We were in Northern Italy early last year and I’d decided then that it was the most beautiful country I’d seen. But after visiting Uganda, I’ve decided Uganda and Italy tie for first place. Just my opinion.
We had an incredible 9 days with Pastor Dave, including a fantastic mix of ministry and fun. (Seriously though, we consider ministry pretty fun). Lots of details and pics in my Uganda posts. We continued to stay connected while in Kenya, and Dave asked us to begin preparing for our ministry trip there in 2020. Next, we were in India. While in India, on November 26th, Pastor Dave sent us a message letting us know he was praying for our ministry in India, and asking for prayer as he was sick. Checked in with him the next day and said he was doing a little better. Checked in on the 30th and got no reply. On December 1st, we got a message from Uganda, saying that Pastor Dave needed serious prayer. He had been rushed to the hospital when he was found unconscious in his home. We communicated daily from that point, even as we were traveling home to Niger. We were able to see him and pray for him on a video call from Niger on December 5th. Thursday. More communication, keep praying, things are getting better, he’s not doing well, more tests being done, etc etc. Monday afternoon we were decorating our Christmas tree and at 2:39 we got a phone call. Pastor Dave had just passed. (For those wondering, his death was a result of diabetes and complications).
On November 9th, we stood circled in front of the airport in Entebbe, Uganda, Dave praying a looooong prayer to send us on our journey. None of us having any idea that he would take his final journey to his well-deserved reward 1 month later. December 9th, 2019.
I’m not an overly emotional person. I don’t think I’d even be described as emotional much at all. Neal cries during a movie much more than me. But man, this has been such a shock. Honestly, it’s hard to put this in words right now because it’s still so new, and because for some reason the words on my screen are blurring….
When I think about all we experienced during out time in Uganda – all thanks to Dave, I feel sad. But I’m writing about this to encourage myself. Not to be sad, but to be thankful. Thankful that after so many years, we reconnected with him. He opened the door to Uganda for us. Thankful that we saw firsthand the impact he had on so many people. Not just a few people around him, not just hundred’s of people in his city, but thousands of people in his nation and around the world. On our last day there, he took us to the market to buy us gifts. The same man that changed the course of thousands of lives, insisted that he buy my mom and dad a gift. No, he didn’t know them, but as he said, ‘you’re my sister so I really want to get something for your mom and dad to appreciate them for having you.’
I could go on, but I’m going to leave it at that. I can’t see anymore.
Pastor Dave, we love you, we honor your life, we are grateful to call you brother and we rejoice (sadly) with you in your new home. And FYI, when I get to heaven, I want to stand next to you in the choir.