Happy Christmas from the Clares

Merry Christmas everyone!

We finally managed to get a good photo with Joan just before she left!

Hello everyone,

We just wanted to send an update and to wish you all a very ‘Happy Christmas!’

We’re settling back into Arua life well. Tom overlapped with Joan just enough to handover what she’d been doing, before she headed back down to Kampala and we had a similar amount of time to reconnect with Noble, before he headed home.

We’re very thankful for Emmanuel and Gilbert, who have taken over as night watchmen and we’re learning from them and their experience working for other expats in the area.

The boys have settled back into home-schooling without too much objection and we’re figuring out a schedule with three of them now in lessons. One of the main challenges is that Joel (nearly 3) hates to miss out on anything and insists on needing to do school too, which is usually more of a hindrance to the others than a help!

It’s interesting thinking back to this time last year when we were anticipating, with mixed emotions, the neighbourhood children returning back to school in January. With a staggered return, some of the younger children never made it back at all and others only went back for a matter of months, before schools closed again in June, when Uganda went into lockdown. It’s been lovely reconnecting with the neighbours and it’s helped the boys emotionally, spending time each day with other children, as they get used to being around each other 24/7. We are really hoping the planned return this January actually happens as children here have missed so many months of school since March 2020. We also know that a lot of families are struggling to get school fees together so it won’t be a smooth return either way.
 

 
New Year, New Additions

Tom has been (mostly) enjoying the challenge of catching up with what was missed whilst we were away and preparing the Health Department for starting the new calendar year. He feels really privileged to be working among so many faithful men and women of God and has enjoyed joining some of them for morning devotions at the Diocese again which had previously been cancelled due to COVID. Pray for him and the team as they look to recruit an assistant in the office in the New Year to assist with the large amount of administration and to enable Tom to continue with training and some clinical work alongside his other responsibilities. Also pray for Erick, a young person in his late teens with cirrhosis and right heart failure that Tom has been seeing locally and whose life remains in the balance as we continue to pray for healing.

We had a brief visit to Kampala last week as we’re expecting baby no 5 next year and we were keen to get a good 20-week scan. The baby is healthy and incredibly active and we’re very thankful for the chance to get such a thorough scan here and to see, once again, the miracle of God’s creation.

It’s fair to say, we’re not huge fans of Kampala and unfortunately this visit didn’t do anything to change our minds. Ezra came down with a high fever and nasty d and v bug the night we arrived. Verity went on her own to the scan as he was still ill the next day and, whilst walking there, had her phone snatched out of her hand whilst she was checking directions. It’s never a nice experience and she was a bit shaken by the time she finally reached the clinic but it was such a joy to see God’s beautiful creation having a seemingly lovely time inside, full of life and enjoying the space.

Being pregnant and giving birth in Uganda is a very different experience to the UK. After a lot of prayer and talking to professionals in the UK before we returned, and here in Uganda, we now feel comfortable having the baby in Kampala. The older two boys were very keen to find out the gender but we never have done so before and are keen to maintain the surprise this time. Since arriving in Uganda the first time, various local women have persistently told Verity ‘God will give you a girl,’ whenever they find out we ‘only’ have boys, so we’ll see!
Dancing at the end of the Kuluva Hospital Staff Christmas celebration (click the image above to see the short video)
 
Christ is Born for You

As many of you will have experienced last year, being away from family at Christmas time is never easy. This year feels particularly hard, especially as we had another loss in the family last week when Verity’s Dad’s mother, Phyllida, died after a couple of weeks in hospital. We’re very glad we came back here when we did, but being away from loved ones when we’re all grieving feels really hard. We’re so thankful for our families back in the UK and their love and support for each other and we’re praying that you would all be able to spend time with your loved ones this Christmas, despite the increase in COVID cases.

We’ve been thinking this Advent about the humility of Jesus in how he came to Earth, the beauty in the simplicity of how he came and the radical accessibility he offers. We’ve been reminded that all are welcome, not just the ones who have ‘everything sorted’ and are feeling full of the 'Cheer of Christmas'. Obviously, we do still have a huge amount to be joyful about and to praise God for, because of what he’s done but we are thankful that we can come just as we are, with both light and heavy hearts.

The lyrics of the song ‘O Come All You Unfaithful’ by Sovereign Grace Music have reminded us of this truth as well.

O come, all you unfaithful
Come, weak and unstable
Come, know you are not alone

O come, barren and waiting ones
Weary of praying, come
See what your God has done

Christ is born, Christ is born
Christ is born for you

O come, bitter and broken
Come with fears unspoken
Come, taste of His perfect love

O come, guilty and hiding ones
There is no need to run
See what your God has done

He's the Lamb who was given
Slain for our pardon
His promise is peace
For those who believe
He's the Lamb who was given
Slain for our pardon
His promise is peace
For those who believe

So come, though you have nothing
Come, He is the offering
Come, see what your God has done
'The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the World.' John 1:9.
 
Prayer Points

Thank you so much for your prayers and support for us over what has been a fairly difficult year, we are really grateful to God for you all. Here are a few current things to pray for:
  • The right applicants for recruitment in the Diocese – both for the Administrative Assistant role in the Diocesan office with Tom and in the role of Facility Manager (“in-charge”) at one health centre and Laboratory Technician at another, where recruitment has been an ongoing challenge.
  • That Tom would be able to follow God’s lead in reviewing and improving the extent to which the health facilities glorify God and point to Him through their work this year and beyond. Pray for him as he plans staff healthcare mission training and a Diocesan health/faith integration policy as well as reviewing discipleship practices at the facilities.
  • That we would all know God’s comforting presence with us this Christmas when we’re missing family back in the UK.
  • That we would be able to share the incredible truth of Jesus’ great love for us with the local people we interact with day by day.

We pray that however you come this Christmas, whether full of joy or from a more broken or weary place, that you would know the peace and acceptance that his sacrifice has bought for us all.

Many blessings on you and your families in this special season,

Verity, Tom, Ezra, Eli, Simeon, Joel and bump

 


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September update from the Clares home from Uganda

The Testers back from Peru 27 August

The Clares in Uganda 22 March 21

The Hosacks March 2021

The Clares January in Uganda

Testers in Peru

The Testers in Peru

Clares in Uganda

Clares in Uganda 16 Oct 20

Hosacks ref Thailand

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