To Our Wonderful Friends and Family,
We had no idea when we picked the title of our newsletter, how prophetic it would actually be! Many of you have been following us on our journey across Africa and have probably wondered where we will go next or even where we are. Our journey has been quite the experience and has sometimes left us wondering the same thing. In late November the director of Teen Missions asked us to consider going to Uganda to help the staff with all the responsibilities it takes to run an overseas base. Though we enjoyed our time in Malawi and South Africa, serving alongside passionate missionaries who love serving in their respective countries, we felt that Uganda would be a better fit for us. Those of you who got our first letter as missionaries might remember that Uganda was where we originally intended to go. We praise the Lord for His timing and understand that where God originally intended for us to go is the exact path we took. We needed to experience growth in certain areas to be a true asset to the mission work going on in Uganda. God is awesome and has given us quite an exciting introduction to Uganda, The Pearl of Africa.
Welcome to Uganda, home to the Green Mamba. Uganda is beautiful. This vibrant green countryside is littered with patches of lush jungle, groves of banana trees, mango trees, pineapples, papaya trees, and jack fruit trees. Fields of tea plants, sugar cane, and maize, sometimes as far as the eyes can see. While this country is beautiful, one can never let its beauty distract you from a very real danger, snakes. At the end of the work day I usually find my wife working overtime in the office. I go check on her around 5:15 and see when she will be finishing. So, as was routine, I checked on Shannon around that time. As I walked out of the office a motion caught my eye, and as I looked down I realized the motion that had drawn my attention was a 4 foot green mamba. Now green mambas aren’t an impressive looking creature, but their reputation alone can make your hair stand on edge. Instantly, I jumped out of the way and let out a manly “yahhhh!” Laugh if you want, but when you find a green mamba at your feet, well within striking distance, let me know how you react. The mamba seemed to have been as surprised as I was (or aware of my reputation) and darted directly into Shannon’s office. Shannon didn’t know why I told her to get up on her desk, but as I barked the command she didn’t question my advice… she’s pretty cool. The next five minutes were spent coaxing the poisonous snake outside. Once outside it was Me -vs- Green Mamba. As it quickly headed for the bushes, I ran after it and trapped the tail end if it under a garden hoe. It was a beautiful snake, bright green in color. We decided that we could not kill the snake without taking pictures. When we finished taking pictures I arranged myself for the kill, but when I did, the snake also made its move. It wiggled free and made its getaway, as if to say, “Whoa! I thought this was just a photo shoot! I’m outta here!” I am always on the lookout for the one that got away and I believe someday… we will meet again.
It was the first night of Boot Camp and I was on my way to the hospital. Each year, in December, Teen Missions Uganda runs a missions training program for Ugandan youth called “The Lord’s Boot Camp”. They are trained in construction and evangelism to prepare them for their missions trip. This year we had around 205 youth. The Boot Camp in Uganda has been running every year at the base since 1996. This year started out a little different. After a night of worship and a message from a local pastor it was time for the kids to head to their tents for a night’s rest. I was about 15 feet away when I heard a girl scream and saw a leader shining her flash light onto a ditch nearby. When I came over, I saw that the girl had blood on her foot and everyone around her was saying she had been bitten by a black snake. There are a few black snakes in Uganda, but none as common as the Black Mamba. Only a few people saw the snake and by their description I can’t help but think it was indeed a Black Mamba. As we loaded her into the car she began writhing in pain. The road into town is not a smooth one. Potholes (or portals to China) and speed bumps (32 to be exact) litter the road, so you can imagine it’s slow going. We were praying out loud the whole way, pleading with God to slow down the venom or extract it completely. We carried her in and the doctors began an IV and an anti-venom treatment right away. The doctors said that they had given her the anti-venom as a precaution, but didn’t think the snake had given her a life threatening dose of venom. We praise the Lord that He took out enough of the venom to save her life. As I write, Grace is out with her team spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Grace is a fitting name, not only because of what she has been given through her saving relationship with Jesus Christ, but also as a testimony of what she received that night.
Be a part of the ministry. God indeed has given us an exciting introduction to the ministry here in Uganda. I’m reluctant to share this last story with you, because I don’t want praise for the actions I was led to take concerning a girl who is suffering from a heart displacement. Everlynn is a ball of smiles and a joy to be around. Everyday the kids participate in a team-building activity called the O.C. (Obstacle Course). We didn’t know at the time, but apparently if Everlynn is too active her heart beats out of rhythm and she goes into convulsions. It was extremely scary, because she would lose consciousness, moan and grind her teeth. As we were rushing her to the hospital, those who were in the back seat said she had stopped breathing. It was at this point that the strength and wisdom of the Lord took over. I stopped the car, checked for signs of breathing and found none. I realized what I had to do; I had to perform rescue breathing. It only took one breath for her to respond. It was an exceedingly emotional experience for us who were in the car. Even now I find myself becoming emotional thinking about the “what ifs”. I praise the Lord for His guidance and His placement. I truly believe that God places us in the right place at the right time.
This is where being a part of the ministry becomes mutual. You hear missionaries say, “become part of our ministry” or “without you I wouldn’t have the opportunity to be here.” I wonder if you believe it. If you don’t, I implore you to. We consider you as much a part of this ministry as we are, because we know full well that without your support and prayers we couldn’t be here. You are a part of the ministry here in Uganda and please don’t let the enemy convince you otherwise. If you are looking for a ministry to partner with financially, you can do so by filling out the slip of paper at the bottom of this newsletter . We would love to join with you and share in the wonders of His workings. Thanks for reading and may the Lord bless you.
Justin & Shannon O’Hara
Praises: *Good Health, Safety & Protection *God’s Guidance *The Ugandan youth who participated in outreach during their “summer” break
Prayer Requests: *Spiritual Growth *Our Marriage – that God would be honored through it and that we would fulfill our spousal roles well. *Continued Health, Safety & Protection *God’s will to be done in our lives *The spiritual climate of Uganda, specifically among the youth of the country, as nearly 50% of the population is under 18. (Many Ugandan “Christians” mix Jesus into their animistic practices – witchcraft in Jesus’ name. Pray for the true believers to be bold.)
Address: P.O. Box 1920, Jinja, UGANDA EAST AFRICA
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