Christmas Greetings

Magandas Posted by Gillian Maganda on Mon, 03 Dec 2007 | Bookmark: digg this Post this to del.icio.us Post this to Facebook

Dear Friends,

It absolutely amazes me how time flies. One week runs into another and before you know it, another year is coming to an end! We’ve been really bad at keeping in touch with people this year – and we apologize that demands of work have kept us from doing the really important things, like keeping in touch with you!

So what has been happening with our mad family over the past few months? This summer found us in Uganda for a well needed break from Refuge Egypt. For the past 10 years we’ve slowly been building a house on the shores of Lake Victoria in Jinja. It’s an absolutely beautiful location and we devoted most of our time to cleaning, cleaning and more cleaning. It seems to be a recurring theme in our lives. We also wanted to decorate and furnish the house with local materials and make it into a place that other Christian workers can use. One of our close friends here in Cairo, John (Ugandan) is getting married in December and he and his wife will be moving into our house with the sole purpose of making it into a Christian guesthouse or place of retreat. As we certainly know that frequent breaks from the ministry are vitally important. So if you’re ever in Jinja, you’d be welcome to stay there. We didn’t take any office work with us and despite being really busy with painters; builders and family flowing through our house, we enjoyed our time there. We were able to walk everywhere without the hassle of people asking “What’s your name” and “Welcome to Egypt”. Instead we had small local kids calling after us constantly, “Muzungu; Muzungu”, which started to get on Esther’s nerves. It was a culture shock for Nathan as he screamed at anything that moved. The first night we visited David’s village, was a drama to behold. The house was invested with rats and quite cheeky ones at that. They were jumping on our bed; climbing up the mosquito net poles and ran over our feet. I think that first night we slept about half an hour. One minute we were laughing hysterically and the next screaming at the tops of our voices. We must have been really loud because David’s mum came over to our house to find out what all the noise was about. She thought we were being attacked by thieves! We had our moments when I wondered “Could I really live in this village?” – And secretly begging God, “Please don’t call me here!”

We had good times with David’s mum and one night while sitting in her small house (with big fat me breaking one of her chairs) she told us that David’s father had in fact 4 wives and not 3. The first wife had been barren, so had been chased away because she couldn’t have kids. Even David and his brother were amazed at this revelation; even though they had heard rumors of it as children. We were able to take David’s mum, her sister and David’s father’s second wife, mama Chickovere, with us to our house in Jinja for a week. We had a really nice time with them and they were able to get a break from the rigors of village life. During their stay we had a “House Dedication” service where 2 local pastors came and prayed over the house and we had a meal together with about 40 family and friends in Jinja. So any evil spirits lurking around our property were well and truly evicted! “Serve notice to the enemy, and he won’t hang around”…. The next week we also hosted a group of David’s brothers. Some of their attitudes towards women had me annoyed; but I had to hold my tongue, which for me is no mean task.

September found us back into the throws of work and after one week we felt like we’d never been in Uganda. The staff at Refuge Egypt had a party for David coming back despite us only being away 6 weeks. They must secretly like him! I and Kezia (English volunteer helping me with the Development Work) were back into the throws of reporting to donors and preparing proposals; and poor David had a multitude of staffing and project related problems to deal with. I keep asking myself how our previous coordinators coped with all this responsibility.

The kids enjoyed being back at school and the heat is on for Esther as this is her GCSE year and is very laid back about it. I’m learning that I can’t force her to study – but slowly she is realizing that she needs to work. Her mocks are straight after Christmas. Beth has been doing really well and maturing into a beautiful young woman. Her interaction and renewed motivation to get involved in things again has been very encouraging for us. Nathan is an ever the talking machine and dreaming up very wonderful stories or exaggerating the true ones – for this I can definitely say that he is his father’s son! He brings us a lot of laughs and asks constant questions. I shouldn’t complain because in a very few years he will not want to know us!

Last week we started the process of conducting a review of Refuge Egypt, and seeking to assess which projects are doing well and which aren’t. We’d value prayer; one thing I read this morning from a book about covering kids in prayer said, “WORRY ABOUT NOTHING; PRAY ABOUT EVERYTHING”. Easier said than done some times, but I’m still learning. We have been encouraged at what God has been doing in and through the Youth Mentorship Program and it’s fantastic to see the lives of young men and women being turned around, and others accepting Christ. We have a family conference coming up at the beginning of December at which both David and I are speaking; along with facilitating the Freedom in Christ course for the staff; and speaking at the counseling course. So the next few weeks will be busy. Christmas will find us in Cairo this year and we are hoping for a quiet relaxing time with the kids. One main Muslim feast falls right before Christmas where a lot of animals are slaughtered. Of all the Muslim feasts, this is the one I hate the most, because our Savior already shed his blood for their sins; they just don’t know it; or refuse to accept it. How the heart of God must ache for the masses here in the ME to come to know Him in a real and living way.

Next year will be a time of change again for us as a family. We are due home for a break, to N. Ireland; and it seems that we may be home for a while as we figure out what the future holds for Beth. Esther will be starting her A levels; and Nathan going into P7! We are getting old. Pray for us as we consider our future and all that God has for us, in our exciting adventure, with Him steering the direction.

One verse that encouraged me this morning was, “He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for His children, it will be a refuge”. Proverbs 14:26.

Our prayer is that you will know Him as a place of refuge this Christmas.

Love in Him, David, Gillian, Esther, Beth & Nathan