God is NOT calling us to move to Uganda!

I remember the first time I read about Uganda. I was just a teenager, but I heard there were terrible things happening to children and families in this small African country. This rebel force, who called themself the LRA, were kidnapping children, making them kill their parents, and then dragging them off to the bush to become soldiers and sex slaves. I didn’t understand how God could allow something like this to happen to these innocent people. I had to learn more. Thus began a passion for Uganda, her people, and how God would some day let me get involved.

I majored in Elementary Education in college. I wanted to teach. Yet, I really felt lead to serve at the same time. So, I minored in Intercultural Studies. Basically, this was a mission minor, which would hopefully help me get a teaching job in a hut in Africa somewhere. At least, that’s what I thought. I still had a lot to learn…and a lot of stereotypes to breakdown. 

I told my boyfriend of about two months about this goal of mine. He didn’t really share my enthusiasm. All I got in reply was, “oh…um ok.” Turns out, this boyfriend was being called into youth ministry in the local church. Local. As in the United States. Living in Africa and teaching in a hut was NOT in the United States. So, that complicated things a bit.

Turns out we were both right. Dustin and I each heard God, He just hadn’t revealed the “when” of it all yet. As time went by, I felt peace with the decision to marry this hottie and serve beside him in the local church. Turns out, God was not only using us in our community, but He was also preparing us for the future.

My obsession, I mean, passion for Uganda continued. We sponsored a boy named Moses, from Uganda {naturally}. I began a folder on my computer of NGO (non-profit) organizations I could support. We hosted Ugandan choir children. I told Dustin we HAD to visit Uganda by our 10th anniversary or we were going FOR our anniversary! And I read. A lot. No really, a lot. I searched, rather, scoured the Internet for books about my beloved little African country. I read travel guides, fiction stories about missionaries, essays from war survivors, blogs, animal guides, and more. This lead to the discovery of a book entitled, Kisses from Katie.

Katie’s story stirred something deep within me… it stirred my very soul. GOD stirred my very soul. I had to read more. Reading Kisses from Katie lead me to reading Love Does. Reading Love Does stirred something else in me, and I had to share with Dustin. Then I read Jennie Allen’s “Anything” and I had to share that with him too. {Yes, for those of you close to him, he was thrilled with all of my reading assignments.} 

But it wasn’t just a “reading assignment.”  You see, something was also stirring inside of Dustin.  If you read “Our Story,” you know that we were embarking on a rather dark time. I became sick, 3 of my grandparents passed away, we struggled with our idea of contentment, etc.

With the idea that we weren’t necessarily being called to be “complacent” swirling around in our heads, we took a lot of time to really pray and discern what this meant for our family. Living in a society of “more means better,” we felt challenged to alter that perception for our children. We began simplifying, even downsizing a little. But that wasn’t enough; we were still way too comfortable.

So God lead us to Bob Goff, the author of Love Does. Bob invited us to Uganda, so we went!! We arrived 3 months before our 10th wedding anniversary! #lifegoalaccomplished

However, that didn’t stop the stirring in our hearts. If anything, it confirmed this idea that God had plans. Big plans. We needed to figure them out. We loved our time in Uganda. I felt home there. I had no idea why, but I did.

Four and a half weeks later, Dustin returned from a conference in Florida. The time there really confirmed in his heart that God was indeed calling us to something different.  Three days later I found myself on a plane headed to Nepal for relief work. My time in Nepal was so special, and it proved even more that God was up to something big..

{I also met some very special girls. We will share more about one in particular in another post, but as a teaser…. she is a seven-year-old orphan who has stolen our hearts and we whole-heartedly feel God wants to be our daughter.}

I returned from Nepal and we both resigned from our jobs. Talk about a leap of faith. It was June, and Dustin said he would stay on staff at the church through the end of the year.  Soooo we had 6 months to figure out what was next.  6 months!  We thought “giving” God 6 months was extremely generous of us. I mean, come on, man!

Yeah, God laughed at us too.

But our prayer truly became ANYTHING. Anything you want us to do God, we’ll do it. Anywhere you want us to move God, we’ll go. Anything you want us to sacrifice God, we’ll sacrifice. It was a terrifyingly humbling experience and I wouldn’t change it for, well, ANYTHING!

We searched, we travelled, we interviewed, we turned offers down, we were turned down. Still nothing.

Then one day I received a text from my friend at Love Does… It went something like this…

“Hey Ashley, Amazima Ministries (as in Katie from Kisses from Katie) is looking for some families to join them in Jinja, Uganda. I gave them your email address. It really sounds fitting for you guys.”

The following conversation in our house went something like this:

Ashley – Um, Dustin, we are going to get an email from Amazima. Oh my goodness! Uganda!!! (All while trying to act totally chill)  

Dustin – Ashley, God is not calling us to move to Uganda.

Ashley – Dustin, we told God anything.

Dustin – Touché

*To be fair, I said the same thing about a few places! ;)

We did receive that email + a few more after it. We also chatted on the phone, Skyped, and had face-to-face meetings. Each time we left the conversation, we turned to each other and wondered could God really be calling us to Uganda?

And so we prayed. And prayed. And asked people to pray for us.

After some ups and downs and lots of uncertainty, we knew that if God truly wanted us to move to Uganda, certain things would fall into place…and they did! One final Skype conversation later, we turned to each other and said, “We’re moving to Uganda.”

So, on January 4th, Dustin, the kids, and I will board a plane to move to Jinja, Uganda to serve at the brand new Amazima School. Dustin will work with a Ugandan youth pastor to create and implement a campus ministry and I will teach in the MK (think staff children) portion of the school. We’ll tell you more about Amazima itself in another post, but in the meantime, check out www.theamazimaschool.org for more info.

Our God is good, even when our circumstances are not. I know that’s easy for me to say. However, we sincerely have wrestled with this concept. We know first hand that it is true. But, we must support one another. Will you pray for us as we transition to this new chapter? Will you follow our journey and prayerfully support us as God leads? It would mean the world to us.  We also want to be praying for you. Let us know what we can be praying for in the comments or via email.

Thanks for reading.

From Dust and Ash

Psalm 113:7

Source: www.fromdustandash.com