Waiting on Him

It is rainy season again. My friend and I slip and slide down the muddy hill to Masese where we weekly study the word with a group of women who have become so dear to us. Every Tuesday we come, joyful and overflowing, or broken and weary, or anything in between and we don’t have to hide it because these women have become friends. We wear our babies on our hips and we wear each others’ burdens. We break bread together in each others homes and each week we crack open His word desperate for His filling, searching for His wisdom, inquiring together, “What do you have for us, God.”
It is beautiful, when I have eyes to see. It is beautiful, but my heart isn’t prepared for Masese today.
We sit in a circle in the dirt space between falling-apart slum buildings and I scuff the dirt under my sandals and let my mind wander as the women share prayer requests, each of them more devastating than the last. Last week, just two days after I held her baby in this very circle, our friend was poisoned and quickly died. We shake our heads in disbelief and we try to remember the good things she brought to this community without losing hope. But as we continue to share, someone else’s mom is slowly dying of tuberculosis and some else’s daughter was assaulted and far too many people that everyone knows have fallen prey to alcoholism and addiction and we see the way this so quickly destroys the lives around us. And how do we not lose hope, I wonder. I let my mind wander because I am weary. I don’t want to engage in this kind of suffering again today. I live just a few minutes away from here but my life is still so different. My hard looks like teenagers with rolling eyes and fragile hearts that are crushed with a few wrong words or glances. Their hard is rampant disease and rape and murder. I haven’t spent enough time with Jesus and today I just can’t seem to open my heart to that kind of hurt without despair.
I force myself to get down in the dirt and lay my hands on a sick friend and pray. My hand is wet and I realize that she is letting her tears fall, vulnerable, in front of me, in front of our Father. Her hurt is different than mine, but really, it is the same. We are the same. Both just as in need of a Savior as the other. Both willing Him, begging Him to come quickly. I ask Him to open my heart to right here and right now. I ask Him to make Himself known.
We sit in the dirt and let the tears fall. And despite my best efforts to harden myself to the suffering today, Faithful God breaks me, gives me eyes not just to see the pain but to know it intimately. These aren’t just people. These are my friends. These are people I know, people He knows. I know their names, their husbands, their children. He knows each hair on their heads and the deepest cries of our heart.
I allow myself to imagine us in the palm of His hand. I imagine his tenderness as He numbered those hairs, I imagine His hand cupping my face as a Daddy cups the face of His daughter, and I imagine Him looking into these women’s eyes and smiling, delighted in His daughters. I close my eyes and in my mind I hear the voice of my husband as he sits on our bed and strums his guitar, “for mercy for comfort we wait on the Lord,” He sings.
Today I feel like we are just waiting. Today, hope is something we fight for.
A woman I don’t know very well walks by our circle. I have heard stories of her. She sits on the ground against the wall of the little dirt church we meet behind and stares vacantly. Nobody is really sure if she is disabled or if she has just been abused by so many men that she doesn’t talk anymore.
 Another woman who I know well and love dearly stumbles down the hill and nuzzles her head into my shoulder. She lived with us years ago as she recovered from alcoholism and her child recovered from resulting burns, but it is clear how drunk she is as she tries to communicate with me through language barriers and slurred speech. My eyes look into hers, blood-shot red, and I plead with her. She is such a good mother, sober. I ask where her little girl is, trying to remind her that being home alone is how she got so injured last time but she isn’t listening. She kisses my cheeks and stumbles away.
It is just days after they lowered our friend’s body into the ground because she was brutally, intentionally killed. Just a week ago she sat in this circle with us and now her body rots in the ground while we try to figure out who will check on her babies. The women look defeated. I feel defeated.
How do we find the hope of Jesus here? How do we proclaim that He is at work when we just can’t see it?
“Let us see you here, Lord,” I pray it desperately. He answers with Romans 2:8, “To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, He will give eternal life.” These women, they persist. Against all the odds, when it would be easier to just give up and go ahead and call this place hopeless, they cling to their hope in Jesus and the persist in doing good, they persist in seeking His glory.
I trudge back up the hill with my mind full of questions. God where are you in this mess? Where are you? As I ponder, my foot slips and lands in a mixture that is surely part alcohol and part human waste. I choose to call it mud and begin to sigh, of course. Two strong arms wrap around me from behind and Santina’s laughter fills my ears. She is laughing at me because she knows how distracted I was and of course, of course I stepped in the hole. She pulls my arm and drags me to her home where she pulls off my shoes and scrubs them in a basin of soapy water. Water isn’t an easy thing to come by around here and I can’t believe she is using it on my sandals. She proceeds to wash my feet. She is washing my feet and I want to protest but I think of Jesus. Bent down, towel around His waist, arguing with Peter who just doesn’t understand. He whispers to me, “See? Do you see Me? I am at work here.”
My stubborn heart may not always want to believe it but I know that it is true. He is at work here.
Margaret walks up the hill in front of me still giggling about my feet and my grumpy-ness. Margaret, who I thought would die. Margaret who at 19 years old held her 4 year old and her dead baby and bled and bled all alone in her house with no one to help her and no one to call family. Margaret who moved in just as frail and sick as Katherine or Betty. Margaret who slept on an extra mattress in my room for weeks because I was so afraid of death that the couch seemed too far away. Margaret who lived. She walks up the hill her arms full of necklaces that now provide for her and her little guy, both happy and healthy back at home in this community, and her heart full of God’s Word which she loves to share with others. “I am at work here,” He whispers, again and again. “Can you believe me? Can you believe my promises?”
Of course I do. I read the words of 1 Peter now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. I cannot deny that I have tasted of His goodness. I cannot deny that I have seen and known Him working all things for the good of those who love Him, even the ugly, hard, unspeakable things.
For mercy, for comfort, we wait on the Lord. And He is at work here.
What is too hard today, friends? What is too messy? It is hard to believe sometimes but we can knowthat God is good in that place. We’ve tasted and known His goodness, even in the impossibly hard places. Romans 2 says, “To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory honor and immortality, He will give eternal life.”

Persist in doing good, dear one. Persist in resting in and relying on Him. Peace that passes understanding is promised us, and eternal life awaits us!

111 thoughts on “Waiting on Him

  1. I just recently read your book and came across your blog. Thanks for sharing this. For being vulnerable in the hard. I hear a sermon on Sunday about the man who brought his demon possessed son to Jesus. And how in the midst of the demons response to Jesus by throwing the boy in a worse seizure than he had been in, when the dad is desperate and says “Jesus, if you can do anything, please have compassion on us.” Jess responds “anything is possible to those who believe.” And the sill desperate father, watching his son convulse in front of him, Jesus, and a growing crowd immediately cries out “I believe; help my unbelief!” And how now matter where we on the faith spectrum in our walks with Christ- our cry, our prayer can always be “I believe; help my unbelief!”

  2. Katie,
    You have no idea how you just touched my soul with your words. I have been to Uganda, inspired by your book ( and God of course). I have seen some of what you described in the ten days I was there.
    We just moved from tennessee to Salt Lake City to be on mission for God and I was already discouraged by the overwhelming prospect of ministering to Mormons and now my eyes have been opened and my heart strengthened from your words. May the God of peace cover you and all of you working there.

  3. This brought a tear to my eye this morning. A tear of understanding. Though in a very different culture, having given my whole life into the Lord's service…I have much the same struggle some days…seeing so much need…so much heartache…so many desperate situations, and feeling like a nobody who has no ability to help. And I don't. But I do have Jesus. And I have to continually remind myself that no matter how empty I feel, Jesus can help these people. AND…also, I must remember that my source of strength can only come from sitting at His feet – which is so easy to overlook on days when everything is clamoring for my attention.
    So thank-you for your transparency.
    And just yesterday I was praying, thinking about my own weaknesses, and crying out, “Lord! Please make me a mommy like Katie! I feel so inadequate just trying to be a good mom to my *own* little daughter, in the midst of trying to do the things You set before me each day — let alone being a mommy to others! And yet…I want to! I want to! And I want to radiate your joy and peace to those around me like Katie does.”
    So it actually encourages me to know that, in spite of the radiance of His love through you…there are hard days; there will always be hard days. But He is enough.
    And, can I just say while I'm at it…that my heart has been knit with yours in a really sweet way…and I have been praying that God would make me a worthy fellow servant in the field that He has given me, across the ocean, on a different continent…that we would be kindred in spirit, as we work for Him in our fields. And I know that, had He not put me where I am for such a time as this, I would, in a heartbeat, be over there with you working with these dear ones.
    But, He has given me other dear ones here, equally broken. And I see it more every day.
    May we press on to seek and save the lost and broken ones.
    Tai Sophia

  4. Beautiful! Praying for you and your precious children and your ministry. GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME! GOD BLESS YOU.
    Kim in Alabama

  5. Katie, thanks so much for sharing. Your words were exactly what I needed to hear this morning. I'm thankful that you are faithfully using the gifts you've been given. You bring me so much faith and encouragement 🙂 It's refreshing to read the words of someone willing to transparently walk through the hard places.

  6. This post makes my heart hurt for those described and yet is a refreshing balm. We have many hurting around us, I am sending each your post. May we see God today as you've described! Thank you so much for sharing your raw story, and beautiful heart!

  7. You are such and encouragement to those around you near and far. Thank you for sharing this post, it really has helped with what I've been going through. Praying for y'all.

  8. Trying to find the song you mentioned “for mercy for comfort we wait on the Lord”, and can't find it. Maybe it's not a song sung in the states. Thanks for sharing your heart.

  9. That is such a beautiful encouragement. Thank you. Thank you for shining your light, for being open to what God is teaching you, and for being vulnerable enough to share it with us. God bless you, my friend.

  10. Amen sister. Praying that He sustains you and your ministry, and ministers to you through your husband and children.

    Isaiah 55:1-3. Psalm 34:7 and Psalm 37:4. He's feeding you through your feeding others. Keep delighting in Him!

  11. Katie…. The foot-washing… I am undone. I don't know how to hug you from so far away as Alabama, but your words are the wind and breath of Christ to me today. Thank you for persisting. I will persist too.

  12. I read your writings with both heaviness of heart and also immense joy at what our Savior is doing in your life and the lives of those around you in Uganda. And it helps me to look at my own life in the US and ask God if He is using me as He wishes… if I am yielding to Him with a wholeheartedness, as you are Katie. I loved your book. You are honest, open and have a deep sense of humility and love for Christ. Deeper than your love of life and self. You are an example to me and others of Christ's desire for his followers. “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love”.

    May God richly bless you, your family and ministry!

  13. Thank You Katie, for reminding us that God is always near, even in the worst of times, the most horrible of circumstances..He is with us..
    God Bless you Katie and your people.

  14. I needed to hear this. Someone said that if you walk through a children`s cancer ward at a hospital, you will see there is no God. I know God is there and I know it hurts Him to see those children but it still made me think and wonder why. Thank you for sharing your heart. God is so good.

  15. He is always here – sometimes we just have to look hard – past the distractions, past the overwhelming feelings of failure to see that He still has everything in full control. Always remember – He inhabits the praise of His people. The children of Israel were not just set free from Egypt to be set free only – but to worship Him and to praise Him.

  16. I am so sorry for the achiness in your heart right now. I am sorry for the moments of despair, doubting and “mud.” But as you already have faithfully shown that you know, He is good; always. God bless.

  17. Katie, thank you for sharing your struggles and your joys with us. You have a wonderful gift of writing and communicating. I am continuing to pray for you and your family and all those that you reach. May God bless you all. Carol B. in NJ

  18. How beautifully you write of pure suffering- suffering from the depths of your soul which is affected by those divine souls all around you. Mother Theresa spoke often of the great sorrow she felt and the emptiness from all the hearts aching all around her- all those hearts her hands, like yours, served. May you continue to 'taste and see that God is good- that eye has not seen, nor ear heard, what God has ready for those who love him.' This is the mystery of our faith. The Eucharist reminds us of that. I am praying for you today- God bless your Katie.

  19. I stumbled onto your blog via a friend. I pray God pours out his strength & hope, peace & love onto you and these women in the midst of their daily struggles and sufferings and your difficult work for his kingdom.

  20. Thank you Katie for sharing your experiences with the world. Thank you Lord for keeping Katie strong and hopeful in these times of despair. In these times of happiness. Romans 8:28
    “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

  21. Thank you Katie for sharing your experiences with the world. Thank you Lord for keeping Katie strong and hopeful in these times of despair. In these times of happiness. Romans 8:28
    “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

  22. Thank you. Just thank you. For reminding us all of the weight of sorrows that our faithful God will bear. And how small our eyes are in the midst of far less struggles than these that you speak of. Thank you.

  23. I just wanted to tell you, I am doing a project due tomorrow on you and your journey in Uganda. I read your book twice and love how much you care and love your daughters and the people in your village. I am going to send you pictures of my report.

  24. Oh Katie, I am praying. I do know those days when all you can do is hope for hope, and choose to believe in the face of seemingly nothing good happening. I pray for you and your husband and family and the ministry there every single day – all the way from cold, snowy Montana. I too am going through the “God where ARE You?” time right now. I am standing with you in prayer. You're a blessing to so many. Your story of how you let God use you over there changed my life and I am watching amazed and joyous at seeing it change others lives too. Now, right now, here, all the way over here. I have seen your story change lives just in the past month!! I thank God for you, your life, your sacrifice and your ministry every single day. You may not see it there today, but it IS happening – God is using you in miraculous, amazing ways!! Be blessed sweet sister. We'll all be in heaven one day together and this will be but a dim memory. 🙂

  25. thank you so much for posting this, katie! i had just read about peter and Jesus and the footwashing and then sunday that was the pastor's sermon and now this…God has used His love stretching across this entire globe to minister just what i need right now…yes, katie…He is working…in my life, too…\o/

  26. You don't know me, but I am praying for you, the Amazima ministry, your family and the people of Masese. I saw your book at the library and felt compelled to read it (I usually read only fiction, except my Bible). It touched me deeply and showed me that I need to love more, serve more. Thank you for “waking me” from my slumber and apathy.

  27. You move me to tears, Katie. Always, always. Thank you for sharing your self with your community. Praise God for you.

    Mary Kay

  28. You don't know me, but I am praying for you, your family, the Amazima ministry, and the people of Masese. I recently went to the library to check out some fiction “fluff” to read. I saw your book instead and felt compelled to read it. I rarely read non-fiction. It “woke me”from my slumber and apathy. It reminded me I need to love and serve daily. Thank you.

  29. amazing, Katie. When I feel that my life is too hard—here in this blessed country, right in the Bible Belt, I think of the real difficulty of life in countries like your home & any number of other countries where suffering is beyond my comprehension, & I am shaken to my senses. I am also brought to my knees to pray for theses women & give my meager praise to a gracious God for blessing me in ways I will never deserve or understand.

  30. My biological mom died of tuberculosis in 2002.It's hard to loose someone close to you die.If they know God you will be reunited with them in heaven. Thank you Katie for sharing the stories, and being strong to help those in need if you can.

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