It’s been an amazing chapter of our lives here in Uganda & we’ve really seen God’s hand, both in our work and family. For some time now, Aggie and I have prayerfully been considering a move to Australia, and we believe God has now led us to make this transition. This is sad for us in many ways, but also exciting (and a bit scary!) as we step out in faith into this very big life-change.
It’s interesting that after more than 20 years living outside of Australia, God is now taking me (Simon) back to my home country…bearing gifts of a beautiful African wife and equally-as-beautiful 5yr old daughter, to join five wonderful kids who have already gone ahead of us. When I jumped on a plane and traveled to the U.S. in 1995, I planned on returning after just a couple of months. God had a different (and likely much more interesting) idea! It’s been something to reflect upon, that’s for sure, and reminds me of some peoples’ lives in the Bible (e.g. Abraham and Jacob) and God’s purposes in their moves & sojourns. It’s exciting to think of what the future holds.
We’re planning to move to Australia at the beginning of November this year. Our decision isn’t because of any problems or frustration with our work, or for financial reasons. One major consideration is that if we needed to evacuate Uganda & go to Australia, Aggie wouldn’t be able to leave with us (and stay there indefinitely) if she were not an Australian permanent resident. She currently has this status but if she doesn’t return to Australia by early 2017 and spend significant time there, it will lapse. It was a very time-consuming and expensive process to get it, and honestly, we really don’t want to have to do it again! (We held it with open hands though, and were prepared to let it go if God had led us to do that).
Another reason for our move is that 5/8ths of our immediate family are already settling in Australia. They all hold permanent residency and will be gaining citizenship within a couple of years. Although they’re older (21-29yrs) and semi-to-fully independent, this is where our immediate family is now and we’d like to make it our home base for that reason. Not to mention that it will be great to be with Simon’s extended family again (Aggie has had a long enough turn). Additionally, the timing for Ivy to start grade one of primary school in Australia is excellent (late January).
When considering & seeking God about this, we really felt that we needed to see a certain type of “stepping stone” if we were going to move to Australia; we knew we could likely find work, but had a strong desire to do more – we’d love to continue doing things helping people – for God to build on our experience & skills developed so far. We also don’t want to get so caught up in the busyness of Western-culture that we become desensitized to the harsh realities of life for so many in this world. So as well as continuing Aggie’s Arts from Australia (and working “regular” jobs), we plan to venture into Indigenous Australian ministry. These original Australians are suffering in a lot of similar ways to the Native Americans (their story is very similar) and our hearts really break for them. During our Australian furlough in 2013-2014, we made significant connections in this area through our church there, which became the stepping stone we felt we needed and had asked God for! Amazing how God does things.
Back here in Uganda, some things won’t change when we leave (actually, come to think of it, many things probably won’t!), but significantly, and again God-led, Aggie’s Arts (the Banda Artisans and Kisoro Kids) are still going to continue full-steam ahead…and we are still going to be an integral part of them – being as involved as we possibly can from Australia! We have found a wonderful replacement for on-the-ground operations in Uganda who we will be training in the coming months. Again it’s amazing to see God paving the way forward! Sadly, our work with IMFC (International Missionaries for Christ) will stop after we leave – what a journey it has been with them! Who knows how God will use the connections we’ve made there.
Thank you to all of you who have been a part of this journey, in whatever ways that might have been. Because of you, we’ve had the joy of ministering to countless broken and needy people in Kampala’s slums, have seen many house churches started, and have helped get Aggie’s Arts started & established; Aggie’s Arts includes Banda Artisans, where many women have moved from a dangerous, low paying job to a viable business (and most of them have come to know Christ); and Kisoro Kids, where around 1,000 students from 5 schools and their families have begun to see a brighter future. And these things will continue!
In fact you still have the opportunity to support, or continue to support us. We plan to continue raising funds through to the end of March 2017. If we raise enough, it will allow us to finish well in Uganda, get started in Australia, continue with Aggie’s Arts from Australia, as well as fund trips to Uganda (Banda and Kisoro) for us the following two years! This will ensure that the vision and work of Aggie’s Arts continues for many years to come. So stay posted because this isn’t the end or goodbye!
In Him, with love,
Simon & Aggie