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Jahswel & Cheyenne Mpagaja Newsletter (Fall 2022)

Jahswel & Cheyenne Mpagaja Newsletter (Fall 2022)

Greetings from our family to yours!

We moved to Uganda

How quickly life can change in a matter of one phone call, one day, one week… On Monday, July 25th, we received a phone call from the TMI head office asking if we were willing to be staff at the base in Uganda! On that Tuesday, the next day, we answered, “Yes! Let us go where there is a need.” On Wednesday, we traveled to Lilongwe, Malawi’s capital, to get the required documents. On Thursday, I applied for my visa to Uganda (Jahswel doesn’t need one as a Malawian) and taught my last classes of English Grammar. On Friday, my visa was approved and Jahswel finished teaching his Prophecy II class. On Saturday and Sunday, we finished grading papers and we packed our house. On Monday, August 1st, we said our goodbyes (which wasn’t easy) and traveled to Lilongwe to spend the night, and we flew out on August 2nd! All in a span of one week—we were asked to move, we said yes, we packed up our life, and hopped on a plane to Uganda. Jahswel and I have always said we would go where there is a need, so this was an easy “yes” for us. Plus Jahswel and Jedi got to experience their first flight on an airplane! (Jahswel’s nephew Penjani, who was living with us, went to live with Jahswel’s aunt who is also on staff at the Chipoka base in Malawi.)

Teen Missions has three bases in Uganda, one in Koboko, one in Bugoi, and we are at the base in Nakabango, which is just outside of Jinja. (Fun fact: my sister Deborah served her internship in Uganda at this same base in 2015!) We were not quite sure what we would find here, since we knew little about the situation; only that staff had been dismissed and there were three left, and our main role would be overseeing the students. 

Our first couple of weeks here were difficult for us—adjusting to a new place, new culture, and new living conditions were not easy. Washing laundry by hand, filtering water to avoid typhoid, not having as much space to call “home” with our kitchen in a public space were all struggles. Then we both got hit with malaria our second week here. And now I have just recovered from typhoid a couple weeks ago. It hasn’t been easy! And because there are so few staff (eight of us, and 19 students), we have been very busy. 

As staff members, we are not just here to keep the work moving and the finances recorded; we are disciplining and training these students 24/7 as we live and stay with them. Jahswel has been asked to take the role of the BMW Coordinator, so he has been managing the 19 students with the help of another male staff, along with their budget for food, while also being one of the two drivers of the vehicle here. He is kept very busy counseling students, solving problems, enforcing policies, rebuking in love; there is never a dull moment! We are so blessed to be serving with these students; my husband and I both have a heart for BMW students and we desire for their lives to be changed through their experience at BMW the way ours were years ago. We really believe in the BMW program and the training it provides physically and spiritually for those who have a calling to serve the Lord in missions. As we have started enforcing some of the policies that weren’t followed in the past, these students have responded positively, but some issues have also come to the surface and many of them are learning to bear the consequences of their actions. When this happens, it provides an opportunity to counsel the students and help them grow spiritually and explain to them how a Christian should pass through the trial they are facing. 

My main role, apart from spending my days with my sweet honey baby, Jedi, has been doing the finances for all the bases in Uganda. This includes preparing budgets for the new month, recording expenses from the past month, staff payroll, among other things. It took me a bit to get the hang of it all, but I feel a lot more comfortable with it now. My next step is to start training the new country coordinator here (he was also on staff in Malawi and agreed to move to Uganda with his wife and their son) along with another male staff member, as I am currently the only person who knows how to do the finances. 

It has become very clear why God brought us here and how great the need is for us to be here in order to keep the ministry going. I keep thinking of us as a link in the chain in the history of missions, and I am honored that God would use us here in Uganda in these ways.

Jahswel’s US Immigrant Visa

We are waiting for the very last step in the process of Jahswel’s immigrant visa—the date of his interview! After a long 10 months of ZERO news, we received an update that our petition for Jahswel’s visa was approved! From there, we had to submit many more documents which we finished doing in mid-August while here in Uganda. And yesterday, 13 October, we got a message asking if we could submit a few more documents. It is encouraging to know that our case is being worked on, but the home stretch is the hardest part! Once we hear when his interview will be, we will return to Malawi for that (since it will be at the US Embassy in Lilongwe), and we will, Lord willing, head to the States from there. So we do not know exactly how long we will be in Uganda—right now we are on three-month tourist visas which will expire 2 November, and we will extend until 2 January, when we would fly back to Malawi, if we do not hear about Jahswel’s interview before then. 

We believe God has brought us this far, and we are trusting Him to finish what He has started. It is now three years since I have been home—since I left the States on a one-way ticket to Malawi as a single woman. I am now married with a beautiful nine-month-old boy. I am very grateful for the life I have lived in Malawi and even here in Uganda, and I am also very eager for my family to meet my husband and my baby. Please pray for the Lord’s favor to be upon us, and for His will to be done in this process!

Jedidiah “Ezzy” Mpagaja

Jedi is 9 months old! He got his first tooth about a month ago, and he is CRAWLING! His favorite things to do are practicing walking, eating chicken, and rolling around on Mom and Dad’s bed. He is the sweetest boy—he dances when he sees Mom dancing, loves spending time with the students here, and loves watching the other kids run around and play. he is adored by all the students and staff here. I am so blessed by each of them who love on our son. I am continually learning more and being challenged physically and spiritually in my journey of motherhood. Many days I have no choice but to carry Jedi on my back in order to take care of all my responsibilities, and it is very hard. If I do not keep my focus on the here and now, and remind myself to embrace my son’s need for me, I lose myself in frustration and get overwhelmed. Nothing has brought me to my knees quite like this, and for that I am grateful and humbled. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1

Thank You!

We want to say THANK YOU to our new supporters who have committed to support us in the past couple of months. You are an answer to prayer, especially as our needs have been shifting since moving to Uganda and preparing to move to the States. We understand that our supporters regularly make sacrifices in order to give to our family as we serve the Lord with Teen Missions, and we want you to know that we praise God for you, we pray for you, and we thank you. We believe God will provide for your needs as you give back to Him. We are SO excited for the day, Lord willing, that we will be able to meet with each one of you face to face! Hopefully very soon!

With love in Christ,

Cheyenne, Jahswel & Jedi Mpagaja

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Psalm 46:10-11

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