Monday, July 18, 2011

A Consuming Fire

Our day began early at 3am when Pastor Sam called from Fort Portal to tell us that the WHM home built and lived in for 15 years by the Chedesters, soon to be home to 17 year WHM missionary Pat Abbott, was in flames.

After we both woke up a bit and realized that we were not having a bad dream, but that the FP house really was on fire, we called Jeff and Cheryl, dear friends to both the Chedesters and Pat. For years, Jeff has petitioned his Member of Parliament for a fire truck for the town of Fort Portal. Only a few months ago, did the first-ever fire truck appear on the streets. Gathering up volunteer firemen and the new truck, they tried to salvage what they could. Unfortunately, the fire was fast and consumed everything. It was only 5 nights ago that we were sleeping there.

It appears to be an electrical fire as similar ones have occurred in the last year due to power surges.

Pat had moved all of her belongings into the house and they were waiting for her mid-August arrival back to Africa. She is currently in America fund-raising for the "Women of the Proverbs" project. When I asked her what she thought about losing all of her possessions, she said, "Amy it is just stuff. It will all burn up someday anyway. I am just glad that no one was hurt."

But a house is always more than a just a house; it is a home. The Cash family tearfully remembered the 15 Thanksgivings spent with the Chedesters there. The Chedesters raised their children there. Pat had carefully selected paint colors for the walls in order to give her new home her own touch. For the past six months, our own little family found refuge there in the midst of malaria, team transition, and the many demands of life in Bundibugyo. We called it the Peace House.

In the midst of such tragedy, God left his fingerprints to remind us that He is here and does have a plan for the future of WHM in FP and specifically for Pat. Besides a few clay pots, only two items were not burnt, the journal writings of pioneer missionary Jim Elliot and the book "He Has Made Me Glad." In the middle of the latter book, unsinged was a photo postcard of the Road to Bundibugyo. Not sure what that means, but it does remind me that Pat always has a home here, where the road ends.


  1. What a heartbreaking event to read about, the physical destruction of a place of respite and peace and safety for so many precious people, and Pat's soon-to-be new home. I am awed but not at all surprised that in spite of the loss of all she owns, Pat's first response was one of gratitude that no one was hurt - all of you who labor there in Africa display such tenacity, cheerfulness, and unwavering faithfulness in the goodness of God despite what seems to be an on-going and ever increasing number of trials and tribulations.

    I am also amazed but not surprised that as you so beautifully phrased it, God left His fingerprints in the destruction. What an incredible sight it is to see those two charred books held in a fireman's gloves - that cannot be sheer coincidence, and even from half way around the world, I am profoundly moved by this post, by all of your responses, and by the assurance that our great God cares enough about us to leave tangible reminders of His watchful eye.

    Thank you for taking the time to remind us all of the bigger picture, and praying that God will heal the sadness that has arisen in the wake of such loss-

    Much love,
    Cindy Nore

  2. so, so sorry about such a devastating loss :(. thankful to hear miss pat's perspective - beautiful! and the photograph of the 2 salvaged books is truly amazing. we love you guys and are so sorry for the loss of your "peace house."