Missing Meri

Missing Meri

On April 4, my sweet Meri died. I started this post a couple weeks ago, but it’s been hard to write; I think that writing it for the interwebs makes it a bit too real.

I am struggling with a bit guilt over this; she wanted breakfast at 2:00 am, and since there is no universe in which that was going to happen, I put her outside. She never came back. I found her nearby while on my way to chapel that morning, and spent the service trying to alternately hold back and wipe away tears. The current theory is that she found poison that had been put out for the feral dogs, and I can’t help but wonder whether if I’d fed her this could have been averted.

The Dennisons, from whom I inherited Meri, have been incredibly gracious and have absolved me of any guilt. They pointed out that Meri had likely far exceeded her nine lives even before she came to stay with me.  Let’s remember that this is the kitty who would play with monkeys. Sigh.

I am missing my Guardian of the Galaxy (or at least the Honors College). I miss seeing her sitting on the final set of steps as I climb to my flat. I miss seeing her on the verandah. I miss hearing the girls next door greet her as they come and go. I miss having someone to talk to, even if she woke me at horrific hours.

Ugandans tend to be very pragmatic about death, especially about animals, as they tend to be more house workers rather than pets. But a few students have by and asked have where Meri was, and when I told them she was with Jesus, they were very sad. Their sympathy and empathy touched me deeply.

Meri was therapy for me when the Dennisons left; not only did I have a small reminder of them, having someone to talk to and care for gave me something to focus on. Even though I could never teach her to tell time, she was very bright: I’d tell her “let’s go,” or “time for chapel,” or “time for lectures,” and she’d head for the door. Well, unless she was feeling teenager-ish, and then she’d whine and we’d fight to get out the door.

She was a gift, and I’m grateful for the two years I had with her.

Happy construction noises

Since yesterday afternoon, I have been serenaded by the happy sounds of heavy machinery beeping as it backs up, and motors grinding as the machines work. Yesterday, we begin to tarmac [pave] the campus, and it was a glorious day. Of course, students writing their exams may not have liked the noise, but it was music to my ears.

Our beautiful campus still has marram [dirt] roads, which aside from being dusty, are slippery when very dry, and are also slippery when wet. The hill going down to the Bishop Tucker building is on a steep incline, and that hill and I are not friends (in either direction, but especially down). Walking at night is always an adventure, as marram roads are always uneven, but their landscape changes daily, particularly in the rainy season (such as we are in now).

But now, the initial phase of tarmacking the campus has begun, and since this involves the roads I use most frequently, I am ecstatic. In addition to increased safety and reducing the dust that floats into the main library each day (and hurts the books), I’m hoping that this facelift will give UCU a much-needed aesthetic boost among potential students. As one friend commented, no one wants to enter the main gate then feel like they’re back in the village on marram roads.

Of course, we commissioned the work before it began, with the Vice Chancellor even firing up the grading vehicle and driving it a few inches. Quite a crowd gathered to commission and pray for this work that we are all terribly excited to see come to fruition.

As a Church of Uganda university, we receive no funds from the Ugandan government, and must fund this work ourselves. Would you be willing to prayerfully consider contributing to this effort? It is not easy to raise funds for capital projects, yet they are sorely needed. This project will cost about 800,000,000 (yes, eight hundred million) Ugandan shillings, or about $222,000 USD. In addition to beautifying the campus, you’ll be helping to make it safer to traverse, for which your favorite missionary in the Bishop Tucker School of Divinity and Theology would be most grateful.


The wonderful people at Uganda Partners will receive money for this and other projects for UCU, and they ensure that the money arrives here safely. If you would like to donate online, click the Donate link, choose the Multiplying Talents Fund (general fund), and in the Additional Comments field, note that the donation is for the tarmac/paving project. But please do take a look around the site; UCU most assuredly could not function as it does without the fundraising that Uganda Partners does.

God bless you.

How Gospel Goats is Impacting Gulu, Uganda

How Gospel Goats is Impacting Gulu, Uganda


Mary McDonald
is a SAMS Associate Missionary and a veterinarian. Recently, SAMS caught up with Mary after her recent mission to Uganda.

SAMS: Tell us about Gospel Goats and the need you saw in Uganda.

Mary: In Uganda, there are families who have been affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Men grew up as boy soldiers and women were abducted to be wives of officers. The majority have received little education about health and nutrition and many are living with HIV. I had a call to equip and empower this marginalized group in Uganda. Gospel Goats is a revolving goat loan program that does that. We teach health, nutrition, and care for the goats which helps these marginalized families on the path to financial and food security. They are able to breed the goats and sell the offspring. With each training, we teach the Gospel and love of Christ. The first goat that is born to those who went through the training is donated back to the program. They learn that they are blessed to be a blessing.

How has Gospel Goats and an education program impacted the region?

When we surveyed the area to start Gospel Goats, there was a school across from an Islamic institute. This school hardly had pencils to work with. I went to the Bishop of N. Uganda and asked about starting a Compassion International sponsorship program at this school. So we prayed that children would be sponsored, and in the first year, we had 200 students sponsored by our church in Virginia. When I returned this year, there were 115 more students sponsored. I discovered that people were taking their children out of the Islamic institute and bringing them to the school. The pastor and volunteers said that Compassion International paired with Gospel Goats has helped stop the spread of radical Islam in the area.

How have you seen God at work through the people in Uganda?

With each Gospel Goat training, we do a clear sharing of the Gospel story. At the end, we ask if anyone would like to receive Christ. At the last training, 15 people prayed to accept Christ. 150 people between the two projects have received Christ, including 5 Muslims. One individual told me that they have felt like the poorest in the community, but because of the gift of a goat they feel like God cares about them and that God is a living and tangible God who cares for both their physical and spiritual needs.

How can people who want to help get involved?

There are already many refugees in Uganda streaming in from the civil war in South Sudan. Now this region is facing an extreme drought and famine. In Uganda, families are losing their crops and livestock. This week, I received a letter from Bishop Johnson writing:

A humanitarian crisis is at our doors. We are trying to share the little we can but both the refugees and the host communities are facing starvation due to prolonged drought and the leading to a shortage of food. As a diocese, we are appealing to whoever can help us to support the refugees to do so now. Thank you for making the appeal on our behalf.

Please pray for the people in Uganda and all of Africa. Please give so others may live. Go to donate go to the SAMS-USA World Relief Fund and designate the country of Uganda in the comment box
or by check to P.O. Box 399 Ambridge, PA 15003.

Share your stories 

I am the first to tell my students that testimonies are powerful; by hearing about what God has done, we are encouraged our faith is built up. Yet for some reason, I struggle with whether the same can be said of my own testimony. 

This is the semester in which the chaplaincy focuses on mission, and the theme is “ordinary people for God’s mission.” I was asked to preach last Sunday on Matthew 10:5-15, with the topic, “will you go?” Amos told me that I was to give my testimony of how I came to be a missionary, something I’ve done before. 

For some reason, I really struggled with this sermon. Part of that is length; it’s hard for me to preach for more than 20 minutes, and to an African, that’s just getting warmed up. But I think another part is that although I knew my testimony was the meat of the sermon, I was concerned it wasn’t enough. Like I should have been teaching more, or have something else to say other than what God has done to get me to Uganda. 

Much to my surprise, several people shared with me after the services that they were in a similar place of wrestling with God and what He’a calling them to, and that my testimony encouraged them.

Continue reading Share your stories  at Here I Am.

Women’s Day gift

Women’s Day gift

Today is International Women’s Day, and as it happens, it is also the time for intramural football (soccer), in which the various faculties play each other. 

Someone remembered and announced in chapel that I have “ever supported” the theology football team with water and glucose, so my patronage of the football team continues. 

Sadly, we lost last week, so I made a point of telling my students that what I wanted as a gift for Women’s Day was a win. I told them several times, so they would know that I was serious. 

They did not disappoint. 

Now I have to think of an incentive for Saturday’s match!

Continue reading Women’s Day gift at Here I Am.