01 SEPTEMBER 2014 — "Whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31). So I took an injury in ministry; today my right thumb is "draining" into a homemade bandage and the back of my neck boasts a small, round band-aid. In fact, I type this Prayer Points one letter at a time with my left index finger. These tongue-in-cheek "badges of courage" were earned in last week's ministry trip to Yumbe District in the far northwestern corner of Uganda—mostly because I am too soft-skinned. We did some vigorous work in the community as an expression of no-strings-attached love in the name of Christ. I literally learned how to swing a hoe, clear a field, heap potatoes and applied my limited knowledge to scrubbing concrete floors and collecting rubbish in the streets. In the process of these labors I developed a couple of monster blisters (think Blister-zilla) that got seriously infected with something I think I am happy never to identify. But, the far better development ... far better than any "battle scars" ... was the opportunity gained through loving service to preach the gospel of Christ's great grace. We had prayed for an "open door for the ministry of the Word" (Colossians 4:3) only to discover that God answered our prayer through us; through hoes and slashers and bags of slimy rubbish that still smelled like gin and tobacco ... and a couple of infected blisters. So I am on a two-week regimen of penicillin, but that is a small price for the opportunity to share Christ's love with a thousand people on the edge of a war zone. [See Yumbe Outreach appended below and Yumbe photos on my Facebook page.]
News — Thanks to many of you who have shown prayerful concern for us since our last communiquè. We have received at least some news since then; which for information-gatherers, as we are, is a relief. However, the news is sad. We have been officially dismissed regarding our expressed desire to proceed with fostering and adoption. So, what seemed like a "sure thing" (direct quote) is now a "full stop" (direct quote). Too bad our hearts dared to slip into excitement prematurely—we had tried valiantly to remain detached. But upon further reflection, if our greatest mistakes in life are borne out of love then we are not fools, even if we might feel foolish. It is likely that adoption as a concept may emerge again in the future, but not in the way or in the direction we had started to believe. As with so many other things in life, there is creation, then death, and then—if it is God's will—resurrection. Thanks for praying; we now have the clarity for which we were asking.
School — The Rees Family Home School has commenced for the 2014-15 academic year. We know that summer has "done its job" in the kids when starting school is a welcome routine to the boredom that comes in mid-August. Props to Shellie for somehow juggling to teach calculus (with Seth, 12th grade) and cursive handwriting (with Jocelyn, 3rd grade), Canterbury Tales (with Emma, 10th grade) and Tom Sawyer (with Abby, 8th grade) and The Fellowship of the Ring (with Nate, 6th grade) and about 100 other things simultaneously. Honestly, for those of us who would strongly prefer not to home school, home schooling without reliable Internet, libraries, laboratories, or the chance to include fine arts is a genuinely high cost for service. Such endeavors have swallowed up Shellie's time and energy to the exclusion of practicing nursing at the clinic, which is also sad. But she has helped me seriously and professionally by cleaning and dressing my infected wounds ... to the glory of God.