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Rafiki Foundation  |  God's Word at Work

Lafage December 2021

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).

This proverb has guided Rafiki’s ministries in Africa since 2002. The training of children, adolescents, and adults is going on continually and is bearing fruit.

As you may recall, God called me to long-term missionary service with Rafiki in 2011. I served with joy for eight and a half years doing, at various times, almost every job at Rafiki Village Uganda. In June 2020, in the midst of the first COVID lockdown, a diagnosis of lung cancer brought me back to Paris for medical treatment. Now it is time for me to retire from this deeply rewarding work.

I had been longing to return to Uganda. God finally allowed me to make the trip last month. I am thrilled to report to you the magnificent fruit of the love and support that you as donors, the missionary team, the national staff, and outside friends have poured into the lives of the Rafiki Uganda resident orphans and the community school children.

Sixty-nine Rafiki resident orphans with caregivers, teachers, and staff, November 2021.

Schools are still closed in Uganda, so our teachers run a “home school” program within the Village and outside in homes of the day students. On my first afternoon at the Village, the residents (69 teenagers, imagine!) performed the previous week’s work on poetry and art as part of the ongoing “competitions” covering academic subjects and extra-curricular activities. With minimal help from adults, four teams of about sixteen residents each, mixed ages from eleven to twenty, presented their poems and art pieces. A jury of teachers awarded points which were then cumulated with previous scores in Bible quiz, math contests, spelling bee, current affairs quiz, and others. The last two weeks were dedicated to original drama skits and arrangements of Christmas songs. Truly, the sheer talent and obvious teamwork exhibited brought exclamations of awe and praise to God from all present. The winning team’s prize—a pig!—was cooked, served, and shared by all during a banquet feast.

The winning team and their prize

A joyous feast

The following weeks brought more fruit; joys and evidence of God’s care for His Village, even in the midst of this prolonged period of closed schools and interrupted routines. Village Administrator Kelly Fore assigned me a light schedule of teaching all the things I love the most: sixth grade language arts, music, art, and Bible study, so I had a structured working day and also plenty of informal time with “kids” and staff. I loved attending Teacher/Dad Chriz’s breakfast time devotions, opened each day by one of the youth. Most days I joined various residents’ tables for lunch, then later attended choir practice in the evening. Perfect schedule for me this time—nothing at all like the overflowing work days that we as missionaries normally handle. In eight-and-a-half years in Uganda, I made some wonderful close friends from outside the Village. How to see those dear ones during such a short visit? A party at the nearby recreation center for some of the Rafiki grads, and an “open house” brought a former teacher and his family, a retired caregiver, a former day student now an electrical engineer, Victoria “the weaver,” a pastor friend now guardian of one our grown-up boys… all dear friends that came for a visit. I felt immeasurably loved and blessed.

A few of our grown up former Rafiki residents joined me for lunch.

What stands out from these three weeks? Evidence of God’s loving hand everywhere. Happy, active, engaged teens who have grown physically, mentally, and spiritually in the eighteen months since I last saw them. Dedicated, hardworking and happy teachers, caregivers, and service staff. A host of “friends of Rafiki” who actively support God’s work for His Village. Village Administrator Kelly Fore, in her tenth year of service with Rafiki, orchestrating all with love and skill. And, especially, new long-term missionaries David and Michelle Graves—fully on board already and looking forward to years of service.

Though I never doubted that God would provide for all Rafiki’s needs and programs, seeing the fruit made it easier for me to say “good-bye.” My cancer treatment is going well, and I am enjoying church and community service volunteer activities in my neighborhood in Paris. Friends, family, and excellent medical care here, as well as the many prayers lifted up for me—I am truly grateful to God for His care.

A different life now!

Love and blessings to all!

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