Sunday, January 9, 2011

January "Featured Daughter of Vision"

~Hello, Ladies!~

I am pleased to announce my *newest* "project" which has made its way into the monthly schedule of "From Under My Little Umbrella." I think it will be lots of fun, and I know everyone will enjoy it.

Introducing...


Note from the interviewer:

I was super pleased to interview this lovely young lady, whom I actually have met {she came and spoke at our church a few times, we receive her newsletter, etc.}! I was excited to find that she also blogs at:


...where you can read more about her, catch up on what's happening in Uganda, and see pictures of her work and life there! Pretty good stuff. :)


Interview with Miss Ruth Howard
My Uganda Story


Hello, Ruthie! I am so pleased we have the chance to hear about your life and work for our LORD. Most of us don’t know much about you, so could you please introduce yourself?
Hi, my name is Ruth "Ruthie" Howard and I am currently serving in southern Uganda. I was born in Houston, Texas, but lived almost my entire life in Northwest Oregon, in a delightful small town, Clatskanie, that I am happy to call home. I was homeschooled for most of my elementary and high school education and earned my GED in 2000. I worked for 11 years at The Clatskanie Chief newspaper, where I learned so much personally and professionally, gaining many valuable skills. I worked at the newspaper until God opened this current chapter of my life. Right now I am working with Shepherd's Heart International Ministry (SHIM).


Since arriving in Uganda in January 2010, I have primarily been involved as coordinator for SHIM's Child Development (child sponsorship) program. I also delight in serving in communications (creating newsletters and helping with e-mail correspondence), assisting in hospitality at the island base when visitors and teams come, and co-leading a weekly girls' Bible study at the island's secondary school. Most recently, I began teaching computer classes to some of the secondary school students.


{Ruthie riding in a SHIM boat, which is used to get to and from the island}
 You are currently living and working as a missionary in Uganda. Where exactly are you located, and how did you become involved with Africa and missions work?
I am indeed in Uganda, and this country, the "Pearl of Africa," is on the east side of the great continent of Africa. Interestingly enough, Uganda is about the same size as the state of Oregon, in square miles, and much of it is very green like Oregon, too. I am just north of the equator. SHIM, the ministry I work with, is based on Lingira Island, about five miles in circumference and located approximately 15 miles from the nearest port city of Jinja. SHIM's outreach is mainly to the Buvuma Island chain, which includes about 52 islands. Lake Victoria, the world's second largest lake, has more than 3000 islands scattered across its surface, and is shared by Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.


Honestly, I had never dreamed of nor desired to come to Africa until about four and half years ago. However, while working at the newspaper, I prayed about becoming involved in some ministry or missions work, though I didn't know what or where. I shared these thoughts and desires with a good friend and long-time mentor of mine, Karina (Thomas) Smith, who was home on a visit in July 2006 from Uganda, where she had been serving since 2003. I was surprised and speechless when Karina asked if I had ever thought of coming to Uganda. Truthfully I hadn't, until that moment.


Through a number of amazing comfirmations, God showed me that this was the opportunity I had been praying for. So, about three months after Karina's initial question, I was on a plane bound for Uganda. Though originally planning to stay for only three months, I remained in Uganda for nearly five months, from Oct. 2006-March 2007. It was during that time, that God led Karina and some others to found SHIM.


On returning home in 2007, I pursued a ministry training opportunity. But, when God closed the door on that, I returned to working at the newspaper, where shortly thereafter, I entered one of the most challenging times of my life, becoming one of only two main writers at the paper. I knew that someday I would want to return to Uganda, at least to visit some of the wonderful people I had met on my first trip, but didn't know how or when. About two and a half years later, God showed me that I was to return to Uganda, not just to visit, but to be involved in a specific ministry here. So, after much prayer, planning and preparation, I came back in January 2010. I now feel God's leading to remain here for the foreseeable future, though I do plan a visit home this summer. : )


{Ruthie with her friend Amanda and their "Morning Star" Ladies' Bible Study}
Is there anything about Uganda that was especially hard for you to get “used to?” =) Adapting to and understanding a different culture has probably been the most difficult thing for me. Here in Uganda, personal space and personal time are not as valued as in America, where the rights of the individual are much more stressed and valued. Here, family and community always come first, which has its good and bad points. Dirt, certain smells, heat and bugs have also taken some getting used to. : )

Are there any specific things you believe the Lord has matured you in since your arrival in Africa?
During the past year, God has shown me more and more of my true self, which isn't always a pretty picture. But, as He has uncovered my faults, sins and weaknesses, I have also seen His amazing mercy and faithfulness to me, and that He desires to lead me into freedom and more abundant life. Giving Him my past, with its sins and hurts, is one way I believe God has matured me.


I have also more clearly seen how God has uniquely shaped and designed me, using in-born qualities and past experiences, for certain types of ministry, like teaching, working with youth, and communication. Knowing God has shaped you for a specific purpose, gives you a greater passion to fully walk in that purpose!


Seeing God work through me, in spite fears and weaknesses, has also been a point of maturing. That He would take me, transform me and use me, a once-very-shy country girl, who hardly wanted to leave the house, is baffling, but it is indeed because of His great grace and goodness!

God does some amazing things! Is there anything 'astounding' that happened to you/those around you that you knew was His Hand at work?
Earlier this year, it was very exciting to see a young Muslim woman, who was living on the island, recommit her life to Christ (she had been a Christian until she was forced by an uncle to marry a Muslim man, who already had five other wives). This dear girl was the mother of a very young premature baby, Hope, born four months early. God provided the resources and the means for Lynet and Baby Hope to return to Kenya, where Lynet is from, and begin a new life. When they have traveled from Kenya to visit us on occasion, it has been a joy to see Lynet's changed life and hear of her involvement in her church. Baby Hope is no longer small and weak, but gaining strength and weight. It is wonderful to see God work in hearts and lives here!


I have also been part of various seminars and crusades during the past year. Witnessing God rescue people from witchcraft and other bondages, restore others who have backslidden, and observe the hunger for God's Word and His ways among His people, are all "astounding"! : ) It is a privilege to be a part of what God is doing in Uganda.

Can you tell us anything about your family back home?
My dad and mom, Fred and Bonnie, live in Clatskanie, in the same house we moved to about 24 years ago. They are both well, enjoy doing things together and being active in my home church. I have one younger sister, Leah, who is in her fourth year working as a staff member at Mt. Zion International School of Ministry near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. She graduated from the school in 2007.


{The Nile River!}
 Modesty is something many of us are hoping to promote and see in others. I have noticed that you seem to be a wonderfully modest lady—has this always been an important issue in your life, and are your young lady friends/students in Uganda concerned with it as well?
Because of a wonderful church atmosphere and godly parents, mentors and friends, modesty has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Growing up, being immodest really didn't occur to me, since nearly everyone around me embraced a standard of modesty. As I have grown older, I have seen the value and importance of being concerned for one's modesty and how a lack of it can affect one's witness and those around you.


Unfortunately, it saddens me to see a certain level of immodesty among the young women here. Many have adopted western styles and fashions, which are often too short, too tight, etc. I am thinking modesty will need to be a teaching topic sometime this year.


{Ruthie and four other single women involved with SHIM}
What would you say to girls who feel called to serve God in the mission field? My first word of advice is to be faithful right where God has you now. I initially heard this counsel several years ago from a fellow missionary, just as I was beginning to plan for Uganda. I believe without a doubt that God uses every circumstance and season of our lives to prepare us for what He has in the future. So, wherever God has you, whatever you are doing, as mundane as it may seem, be faithful in it. You never know how God may use what you are learning now for His purposes sometime down the road. The Bible tells us that God honors those who are faithful with little, by giving them more.


Secondly, get to know missionaries and their work. Ask to be included on any update or newsletter mailing lists, so you can follow their lives and know how to pray for and encourage them. God is very active all around the world, and if you are interested in missions work, then knowing what is happening, can be very helpful and eye-opening.


Thirdly, missionaries fill a variety of roles and serve in various ministries, whether it be discipleship and evangelism, administration, communication, building, teaching, media, agriculture, etc. Virtually any skill or talent can be used in some way on the mission field. Don't limit how God can use you.


Above all, love God and love the people He puts in your path!


Any closing words?
Lucia, first off, I am so honored that you asked to interview me for your blog! Secondly, I would say to your readers, that sometimes people view missionaries as these great spiritual giants. Perhaps some are, but most are ordinary people, who are serving an extraordinary God, in a place away from home. Really any Christian is also a missionary, since we were all given the "Great Commission," (Matthew 28:19-20). You can be a missionary in your home, school, neighborhood and community - sharing the love and light of Jesus to lost and hurting souls.


Thirdly, don't be afraid to contact any missionaries you know. Some may not always have the means or time to return all of your correspondence, but it is a great encouragement knowing people care and are interested in what you are doing. Also, don't forget to pray for your missionaries - this is the best thing you can do for them.


{The Pentecostal Church in Uganda}
Thank you so much for your time, Ruthie. May God bless you in your work for Him, and we hope to see the ministry in Uganda prosper even farther and touch many hearts!
Thank you for your interest! And, please keep praying for the ministry here in Uganda, that God would continue to transform hearts and lives by His love and power.

5 comments:

  1. What a sweet and inspiring interview! Thank you, Miss Lucia and Miss Ruthie. May the Lord continue to bless your mission work... I will be praying for you as you serve our extraordinary God over in Uganda, Miss Ruthie!

    Your Sister In Christ,
    Jenna

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  2. Great interview! :D

    "..Be faithful right where God has you now"

    "I believe without a doubt that God uses every circumstance and season of our lives to prepare us for what He has in the future."

    Some of my favorite inspirational quotes from the interview. :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Lucia,
    Thank you again for the honor of the interview and being featured on your blog! You made a wonderful presentation with the photos and all. :)
    Jenna, thank you for your nice comment and for the prayers, too!
    Nela, the second quote is based off one of my favorite quotes from Corrie ten Boom, a remarkable woman.
    "Every experience God gives us, every person He puts in our lives, is the perfect preparation for the future that only He can see."
    Blessings!

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  4. What a great interview. Miss Ruthie definitly has alot to share, and it was interesting to read! I'd love to hear more.

    ~AJ

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  5. Wonderful questions and answers! I will most surely have to check out Ruth's blog, and see what else she has going! I have always wanted to travel to Africa..

    ReplyDelete

Aw! Thanks so much for leaving a comment! They make me smile. :)

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