Tuesday, December 28, 2010

indeed they are doves

The weekend before Christmas Berna and I took 4 girls to Sisiyi Falls Garden to share with them the word of God. As I wrote a couple weeks ago in this blog, God gave me a picture of ravens (basically, stuck eating dead things) and then doves (flying high and free). As Berna and I were planning, there was really no other pictures or scriptures the Lord gave to us to share. The previous times when we were going we had it all planned out, just what scriptures we were going to read and just what questions to ask, but this time we didn't feel any leading toward any particular thing, only the promise of the ravens to doves that God wanted to do in these girls lives. On the day we were leaving, God did give me one scripture, from Zechariah 3:1-7ish. I shared this with Berna as we met to pray for our trip before going to pick up the girls. As I was explaining to her I still didn't feel confident about going with so little preparation, and would this somewhat obscure passage in Zechariah make sense to girls who, have never really read the bible before and were not yet born-again?? I was encouraged by Berna as we were discussing, she reminded me that God loves these girls even more than we do, and longs for them to come to Him even more than we do, and we just had to go and be open to how He would lead. He wanted all the glory for what would happen on this trip, and us going so "unprepared" would guarantee this.
So...we prayed and left to pick up the girls. Theres, Maggie (14), Beatrice (16), Goretty (18) and her baby beatu (1.5) and Alice Angela (18). When we arrived at Sisiyi Falls, and were eating a snack we asked who was born again, and Alice was the only one who was born-again. After our snack we went up to our tents, put our stuff down and explored the river at the base of the falls. We climbed over rocks and rapids, and we laughed and enjoyed ourselves seriously. normally we would not spend so much time exploring, but do a planned bible study, but this time we just enjoyed God's creation for a couple hours. After we explored we bathed and went down for supper. We chatted during supper and afterwards we wanted to have our first bible study session...but we had no idea what we were supposed to share. We sat around and it was a bit awkward because we just kinda looked at each other. Then I said to Berna let's sing. She laughed and said, I was just thinking that. So we sang a few songs and as we were singing, I felt God wanted me to ask what was preventing these girls from being saved, why didn't they want to become born again (I thought, well at least this way we'll know what we're up against). So when we finished singing, Berna asked me to share anything the Lord put on my heart, so I shared it with her and she said, we could ask them, so we did. Maggie said she had tried being "saved" once, but failed, so she gave up on trying to be saved. But she wanted us to pray with her to become born-again. Goretty said she didn't really know why she wasn't born-again, her mother was, but she was not. She said she wanted us to pray with her to become born again, then Beatrice...She said she also wanted to become born-again, but her father was threatening his children so they would not become saved, like he would chase them away if they did. But she said she had a grandmother who was born-again, but had died. Then she said that on the monday prior to coming on the trip her grandmother came to her in a dream and told her she should become born-again, so beatrice was planning to ask Jesus into her heart at the next sunday service she went to, so she too wanted us to pray with her to become born again. So all three were desiring to choose Jesus! We wanted to make sure they understood what it meant, and that's when I saw the verses from Zechariah 3 that God had given me should be shared. We talked about the enemy, Satan, standing accusing us, discouraging our hearts, because of our dirty clothes (our sin), but then how once we accept Christ and invite him into our hearts our dirty clothes are removed and we are given new, clean and pure garments, and authority and the evil one has no right to stand and accuse us, or take us away from God. We explained that nothing that they did could separate them from the love of God. All of them said they understood and wanted to be prayed for, so we went up by the camp fire we had started and each of the three girls knelt down one at a time and we prayed for with them, then they prayed, then we prayed for them. It was a beautiful time and I could see that God wanted to do more than we could ask or imagine. That he had transformed ravens to doves, he had replaced slavery with freedom, sadness with joy. I was so encouraged by this, and knowing it was nothing that I did, but follow the Holy Spirit's leading, helped me to give God all the glory for this transformation in these lives! I want to stop here, because it's already long, but before stopping, I want to share what we found out the next day. So the next day we climbed to the top of the falls and Berna felt we should both share our life stories, so I shared then she did and then each of the girls shared some about their lives and any prayer requests that they had. All of this was in kumam (except my life story) so I didn't get much of it. After we came back down from the top of the falls, Berna shared with me the information the girls had shared and this is what she shared: Maggie had been dedicated to the devil when she was just born, they took her to the swamp and "gave" her to the demons, so she's had bad dreams her whole life. Beatrice, a lot of witchcraft in her home, her brothers were dedicated to the devil, demons disturb her while she is sleeping. Her father was asking for prayers of deliverance from the church, but at the same time refusing his children to become saved. Goretty, lives with her aunt and uncle, who have shrines and buried witchcraft charms all over her compound. And Alice, her father is a witchdoctor in a village two hours away, he used to have 4 wives until her mother and another wife left him, after her mother moved herself and the children away alice used to have episodes where she would "run mad (crazy)" not eating for days and fearing to show up at school naked, etc...they discovered that the daughter of the other wife who had left would run mad at the same time as alice would. But, once alice became born-again a couple years ago she no longer runs mad, she's been free of that. So her prayer requests were for total deliverance and for her father to become saved. These girls had really come through some dark stuff, and had suffered much in their short lives, but they were now being set free! The rest of the weekend we explored more the river, we shared on forgiveness and living as a follower of Christ and prayed over them deliverance from the evil one. It was a great weekend, and I feel honored that God could use me, a weak clay vessel, to share His word and love with these ladies and that such transformation would occur. Thanks to every one for praying! Please continue to pray for these girls as they had to go back into their families who don't know Christ and could easily become discouraged. We gave them each a bible, so you can pray for truth from His word to penetrate their hearts. And beginning again on the 8th of January we'll continue our bible study with these girls and about 14 other youth. We're also going to begin showing dramas in the community to share the word of God. I think the first one will be shown on the 9th, Lord willing. here's a few pictures from the time at sisiyi:

Here we are on top of the falls:

And at the bottom:

Studying the Bible:

After going under the falls:

And little Beatu, so cute:

Monday, December 20, 2010

Traditional Turkey Transportation

It will never cease to amaze me the way women so skillfully balance so many different things on their heads as they travel...so far I think this might take the prize for most amazing...the pictures should speak for themselves...

yes...live turkey...yes...no hands assisting....yes...near vertical cliff face...yes...impressive...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

ravens and doves

We are planning to take another group of 4 young ladies to Sisiyi Falls Garden tomorrow until Sunday (12/17-12/19). Please pray as we share with them the Word of God and His heart for them. As I was praying for them this morning the picture God gave me was first of a black bird, like a raven or something that eats dead animals and/or trash. Then He showed me a white bird, like a dove, flying high above the ground, so peaceful, so free, enjoying the life of royalty in a sense. So my prayer is for transformation in these girls hearts in line with that. That those girls would be set free from any sin that has trapped them, and their eyes and hearts open to receive what their Heavenly Father has to give them, such as the lavish love He pours out on us. That they would have a life changing encounter with the King of Kings!
Thanks for prayers.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

a "sweet" from market

So I was at market today to pick up a few things, mangoes, fresh fish, avocado, watermelon, tomatoes and onions, etc...I was with my friends who are about twelve years old each, Betty and Abella. On the way into market there was one stall with a few things, and I saw some grey hard thing, like cement wrapped in newspaper, i asked betty what it was and just reached out to touch it and she says, ah, that's for pregnant ladies and quickly pulls me away. As we walk away Abella mentions, I've ever tried it (this means she's tried it before), it tastes good. Betty says, even me I like it. Apparently not just for pregnant ladies. Anyway, we walk throughout market and get everything we wanted. On the way out we pass by near that same stall, and a lady was sitting on the ground sorting through what looked to me like stones, Betty stops and says this is the one, the stones. So she reaches down and grabs some small, small, part of a stone, and eats it. Abella also is desiring one, so Betty grabs another little piece and hands it to Abella who also proceeds to eat. This is the stuff the pregnant ladies eat, I've figured. Now, I too am interested in what these "stones" taste like, Betty tells me they are like a sweet (candy), you can just suck on it, but Abella says she likes to chew it. So Betty finds me a piece and I try it. At first I suck on it, then chew it a bit. And then i proceed to spit it out as we walk away. It looked like a stone, so i should have figured it would taste like a stone. Well, I think it tasted more like dirt actually, but you get the idea.It was the worst "sweet" I've ever had. As we walk away Betty says the pregnant women love it. Let's just say for the time being, I'm glad I'm not pregnant.

On a more serious note, during the school holiday, so for december, january, and probably february, i'm doing a small bible study with these two girls two mornings a week, we are studying Matthew. please pray for our time together. when i asked if either had a prayer request this morning they both want to be able to read the bible better. Abella, just got a bible a month ago, and has already read through the gospels twice, and deuteronomy and now is making her way through Jeremiah. She said she is praying that she could understand the bigger words. Betty can't really read yet, a combination of poor schooling and we think a learning disability, so we're praying that God helps her brain to function
properly as it's intended to so she can also read a bible. Thanks for joining with me in praying for these girls. Oh that the love of Christ for His Bride would jump off the pages of His word in to their hearts.
Below is a picture of me with Betty and Abella a few months back, my hand is on Abella's head, Betty's the one with polka dots:

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

teaching - learning - praising God

One of the jobs I have here in Soroti is to teach Lydia twice a week. She's the oldest daughter of the Shaarda's (missionaries on our team here). She's 7 now, and i'm teaching her 2nd grade math, reading and phonics, and health. Today we were learning about our eyes in health. And as I was explaining the pupil and how it responded to the light I covered my one eye and then had her watch as the pupil went from big to little. As it did she let out a little shriek of excitement and said, and we didn't even have to tell it to do that. That's right. I was just struck then and there in awe of my Creator. The way my eye has been formed, how it functions almost 100% of the time without me even being aware. I'm so glad I don't have to remember to tell my pupil to get bigger or smaller depending on thelight, or remind my heart to beat or my lungs to breathe. Our bodies are amazing and I'm so glad I get to teach these lessons where I'm reminded of the miracle of creation that we are, and the care that our loving Father put into designing and creating us. So as you find yourself squinting in the sun or straining to see in the dark, praise the Lord with me for creating us so fearfully and wonderfully.
Below is the only picture I have of me and Lydia together. We're the two on the right. On the left, my good friend Claudia when she was visiting and Lydia's little sister Grace. I guess I'll have to get a picture or two in the classroom...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

healing hurting hearts

Went back to Dokolo yesterday and had a beautiful time. The kids really seemed to get it, all wanted Christ in their lives and as they sang to their Lord, Berna and I went around praying for each child. After this we read the book You Are Special, by Max Lucado, and then had lunch. It was a privilege to provide some meat, rice and soda to a group of kids that normally misses out on lunch all together. Wow, and after lunch they were so excited and full of energy like we'd not seen before. After talking to Salume last time and getting her story and praying for her, we decided to talk to each of the other kids one on one and get an idea of who they live with and what their prayer requests are. It was amazing to discover that of all five of the girls we talked to that afternoon, not one of them lives with their mother, and only one lived with a father. Two girls have both their parents in another village, but are currently living with their aunties. And both these aunties mistreat the children. Florence is sent out to the garden at 5am by her auntie, and Karen's auntie accuses her of things that are not true. Both desire to go back home, but their parents aren't coming to get them and the aunties aren't bringing them back home. they say money is the problem, but i think it goes a bit deeper than that. Two girls have been left by their mothers. Catherine's mother left her with her grandma to go and make a new family. Modesta's mother left her to stay with her father. As we asked Modesta how we could be praying for her, silent tears fell down her face, the rejection by her mother is so hard on that young lady's heart. Then of course there's Salume who is a total orphan who lives with her auntie who mistreats her, denying her food, etc... I was encouraged a bit by talking with the boys, as 4 out of the 5 boys had both parents at home and their biggest complaint was being overworked, one the sole cow herder in his family, the other having to fetch water at night and carry the water on his head (usually it's only girls who do this). Only Isaac had one parent, just his mother as his father had left a while ago. After we finished talking with each child I shared with the group about what I've learned to be the two most important things that they should remember. Who God is and who He's created them to be. I kept reiterating how God is for them, not against them, and how it pains His heart to see them suffer so much, how much He loves them and how He is always with them. As I was sharing Modesta began crying again. I explained how beautiful they each are and how perfectly God created them just the way He wanted them, and how I pray that some of these things stick in their hearts and they cling to this hope that they have in Jesus. I pray that the reality of the love of Christ and the love of the Father and the presence of His Spirit with them would transform their lives. Each of these kids I place in the loving arms of the Father, knowing how intimately He knows each one and how He cares for each heart so gently.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Dokolo Bible Club Interrupted

Today I went out to Dokolo primary school for bible club. Usually we meet on fridays, but Berna and I have been out of town for a few weeks and the school year is now ended, so we decided to meet twice this week. Today and Tomorrow. There are no classes right now so many of the kids came in the morning and just waited for us to come at 2pm. When we arrived there were only 3 of our regular girls there and 5 of the boys (we average 24 kids usually). But by the end of the time we had at least 6 of the regular girls and 6 of the boysand then at least 12 other kids who just wanted to be there with us, mainly from the grade level below. So we let everyone stay who wanted to and had a good couple lessons on making good choices and having peaceful responses when we're provoked. During the middle of the second lesson suddenly the kids started standing up and looking out the side of the church wall and I could tell something was wrong, but i didn't know what. Berna started running and as she ran by she said they see a snake. So we all ran about like chickens with our heads cut off, seeking safety. well, for me, I was seeking safety, but many of the kids were seeking rocks and sticks to attempt to destroy the snake. I made it around to the other side of the church in time to see it scurry (if a snake scurries) off into the grass. I thought it would surely be killed, but they said it disappeared (hence no photo) before they could finish it off. We then went back to bible study. I've had bible studies interrupted before, but never by a snake before...When we were resuming bible study Berna was asking the kids about the snake, they told her that there was no medicine that would help that bite, later the headmaster said that it was a cobra...no big deal, just a cobra...ahhhh!!! anyway. it was a good reminder of just how many dangers there are around at any time, and how many times the Lord has protected me from something, unbeknownst to me.
A few prayer requests from the day:
We're officially finishing the bible club tomorrow as this school year
is over, however the headmaster has asked if we could keep coming weekly and meeting with the children, please pray for wisdom in deciding if we keep going and if so, what we continue with...

The headmaster also said that at his church there's like 20-25 youth who could use some discipleship, like we're currently doing with the other youth in kamuda in the drama team...more wisdom on if, when, how, and what...to do
Berna and I noticed one of our regular girls, called Salume, seemed sad as we were about to leave, Berna grabbed her hand and started enquiring as we walked along.
She found out that Salume lives with her auntie and she is hardly eating as when the aunt prepares something for herself she seldom shares with Salume. Salume's other siblings are with different relatives. We took some time to chat with her and then pray for her. Please pray along with us that God would reveal His precious love for her and make a way where there is no way for her.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Nathan Update

Many have wondered about Nathan now...how is he...is he eating...etc...
He seems to be just fine now, I think on the third day after birth he started nursing successfully. We just kept praying and Hellen kept trying. He got darker very fast and has the cutest chubby little cheeks. His excretory system seems to be working as he peed on my mom and nearly pooped on me. I've included a picture of me, Hellen, my mom, Hellen's other two girls, her husbands cousin and her son and another girl. My mom is holding Nathan.

One unfortunate thing for Nathan is he has two older sisters, so when she came to my house the other day he had a cute little worn-out/faded dress on, with hot pink plastic diaper cover thing on, and a pretty sweater. He was cute in the outfit, but i think i might work on getting the boy some trousers.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

birth photos

Here's the pictures i thought i included in the story from tuesday the 16th, but they didn't load right, so here they are now.

Baby Nathan just after birth:

Nathan sharing the incubator, just after birth:

Hellen resting place for the night:

Nathan's first bath:

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

All in a day's work

It was the 19th of October, a Tuesday morning, and I was about to leave my house to teach Lydia for the morning when I get a phone call from Hellen (really it’s just a flash and I have to call her back, but I’ll explain flashing another day). So I call her back. Hellen is my house helper, but she’s currently on maternity leave so a flash from Hellen, makes me pray that my call goes through right away, as usually the call is going through only 10% of the time. By the grace of God it rings and Hellen answers and says, “Rebecca, I’m going to have the baby today.” This is somewhat concerning to me as Jennifer, the nurse, is out of town for the next week, and Hellen’s last baby was delivered at home because she lives in the village and by the time she was ready to go she didn’t have time to get to the hospital. I asked her if she wanted me to come and pick her up, she said, “it’s ok” (which here means yes) so I said I would come and get her. I quickly postponed teaching for the morning and headed off the 13km in the car to go and pick her up. I couldn’t imagine her riding on the back of a bicycle those 13km while having labor pains, but I think that would have been her other option, or have another kid at home (which as we soon discover probably would have been a better option…but anyway…) I think the best way to describe the rest is a sort of time table, it’s almost a month later now, so I hope I can remember everything, but I have to document before I forget anything else.

8:45am, pick up Hellen from near her home

8:55am, discover we need to pick up a few things from my house (a basin for washing, a matt for sleeping on, some tea, and some sterile gloves, etc…)

9:00am arrive at home, pick up things we need, make tea and head for the hospital (should have delayed longer at home)

10:00am arrive at hospital, notice a man digging a small hole in the driveway, don’t think twice about it, park just outside the maternity ward. Yes, I think Hellen is the only one to have arrived by personal motorcar.

11:00am Hellen is seen by the doctor who tells her to get put on an IV, she’s dilated to 4. Dr’s supposed to check back on her again in 4hrs. The nurse gives me a list of 4 items needed from the pharmacy in order to start the IV. Gives Hellena black plastic sheet and her file.

11:15am, attempt to drive to the pharmacy, only to find out my vehicle is now stuck in the maternity ward as the man who was digging a small hole, was actually working on a ditch across the whole driveway.

11:16am, decide to walk to the pharmacy, good thing it is very, very, near.

11:45am, return with the IV stuff, syringe, more gloves, tubing, and one other thing…

12:00pm the old lady has arrived, this is the mother-in-law of Hellen’s, she is affectionately and respectfully called amongjong by Hellen, which means, old lady. This means I am no longer the sole caretaker of Hellen. At the hospital you have to bring someone who will cook for you, who will help you bathe, who will go and get everything you need from the pharmacy, who will advocate for you, who will talk with you, etc…I had told Hellen since early in the pregnancy that I would be her care taker, however, we both knew I wasn’t caretaker material, as my cooking of Ugandan foods left something to be desired, and I’m white so I’d get too main responses from people: laughter (from those who would watch me try to cook over a sigiri) or extortion (from the nurses who would charge us extra for everything since I should have more money) all that to say, I’m glad the old lady showed up and lifted some of the burden (she’s a good cook).

12:30pm Hellen appears to be in good hands with amongjong, so I decide to try to go teach Lydia for a couple hours, my car still being stuck in the maternity ward, and the ditch continues getting deeper and deeper. I pay a quarter and ride home on the back of a boda boda (which is basically just riding on the back of a bicycle) I make it home and quick eat a sandwich and go and teach.

1pm-3pm Teach Lydia

3:30pm Go back to the hospital to check on Hellen. Hellen’s IV is finished so she’s kicked off the bed she is on and there’s no room to wait inside, so she comes outside to sit and then she wants to bathe (again, glad the old lady is there for giving that assistance). Hellen wants me to go pick up some fish for supper and get my sigiri (little charcoal stove) and a knife and a few other things for supper.

4pm I walk over to the ever-increasing ditch and converse with the tired digger. He asks me if I want him to fill it back in so I can drive the car over, as much as that would be nice, I feel bad for the guy who’s been digging all day, only to have to fill it back in, though he could have mentioned when I was first driving by that he was not just fixing a pothole, but rather digging a large ditch across the only access point by vehicle to the maternity ward….anyway, I’m over it, so I think I can go up over a curb, on to the grass, around the septic tank, onto a sidewalk, over another curb and then back onto the driveway, it will be tight, but after talking to the “supervisor” of the digging, we think this is the best option. He doesn’t think this white girl could manage to maneuver the vehicle through such an obstacle course, but I’m determined and go for it anyway. Needless to say, I made it and I think my audience was pleased, although they were probably wishing in their hearts that I would struggle a bit more, at least it would have brought more entertainment to that depressing place…

4:15pm I drove home, got the things I needed from there, then drove to the market to buy some fresh fish and vegetables.

5pm Back to the hospital, I’ve found a new parking spot. This one’s not as close to the door, but at least I should be able to leave again when I want to. I deliver the fish to the amongjong and greet Hellen. We sit outside and then it begins to sprinkle some rain, we would move inside, but there’s not really much room to sit from in, so we head over to the edge of the building where the roof hangs over enough to at least offer some bit of protection. At this point let me go back just for a minute. When Hellen was on the IV she had a bed in the labor room (three beds were there), the girl next to her was only maybe a month along in her pregnancy and kept throwing up, but I digress, so anyway, whenever I wanted to see Hellen there I would walk through the birthing room (three beds were there with a curtain between each) I would see something new. One time I walked out of Hellen’s labor room to see a head breaking forth from the womb, another time I saw two new borns laying together in an incubator, they weren’t twins, they just only have one incubator. So babies are being born throughout the day with a constant rotation of mothers on the birthing beds.

Sometime between 5-8pm we move inside to the benches while the old lady cooks, enough of the women have had their babies that there’s some clearing on the benches. Finally the food is ready and we go and eat just outside the entrance to the ward, on the ground. The fish and posho is good.

Something like 10pm comes around and I decide to leave. I want to stay for this baby, but maybe it won’t come until morning and there’s literally no place to sleep. Every bed has at least one woman on it and every inch of cement floor is covered with patients and with their helpers and with their luggage and anything else. Everyone seems content, except one lady who is pacing and groaning outside, her time is very near. I tell Hellen I’ll see her in the morning and I head off. Leaving her in the “good” hands of the TWO night nurses. So many women, only two nurses.

10:30pm I go home, have a quick shower and go to bed. I just close my eyes and I think even literally that second my phone rings,

11pm it’s hellen. “Rebecca, there are no more IV bottles in the hospital.” Me, silently, “WHAT!?! You have to be kidding, a hospital with no more saline drip, how do you just run out of that???” Me, out loud: “So you want me to bring you some?” of course the answer was yes. Thankfully I live with nurse Jennifer and she just happened to have the stuff I needed and I didn’t have to try to find a 24hr clinic. Praise the Lord for that! So I get dressed again and drive over to the hospital with the goods. This time I park in the driveway to the maternity ward, stopping just before the ditch. I run in and deliver the Saline drip.

11:30pm The guard comes and requests that I move my car because if there is an emergency and an ambulance needs to get through I would be in the way. I try to explain that even if I move my car there is still a giant ditch across the road that would hinder any ambulance from reaching the front doors anyway, but I soon gave up and just moved the car. (somethings you just can’t understand)

12am Hellen moves into the Birthing room so she can be on her IV. Another woman has an IV hooked up while she sits on the floor, so I’m glad that Hellen gets a bed. As I visit Hellen in the birthing room, I realize her contractions are pretty close and I begin to time them, they’re less than 5 minutes a part from what I can tell from her grimacing and noises, etc… She’s now on I think her 4th or 5th Saline drip of the day, and I’m still not sure why, she says to help the baby come quicker, but I don’t understand. Much of the rest is a blur.

I remember the nurse came in just as I was debating whether I should go out or stay with her, and then the nurse told me to help Hellen take her clothes off because she was going to begin pushing. I figured that meant I was going to stay and assist. This was further confirmed when the old lady walks in and then walks out saying something in iteso which translates roughly to “I can’t do this, let me go get my friend to come and help.”

1:15am Hellen begins pushing. The nurse puts on Hellen’s last two pairs of gloves and says she better push because those are the last two pair of gloves and if she has to take them off before the baby is out there will be no other gloves to put on. (no pressure hellen.) Hellen begins pushing and pushing and pushing. I remember the nurse was of no help. She slapped Hellen once and kept saying super encouraging things like, “you’re not even trying to push” and things like that.

2:15am Hellen is still pushing and this nurse has now given up. She says she’s tired and Hellen’s not really pushing. So she takes the gloves off and goes to the office to get some shuteye. At least there is one other nurse. This one is also somehow not super helpful, but at least she’s awake. She says her strategy is to just not put the gloves on until the head is coming out that way she doesn’t waste the gloves. This nurse is in and out, walking around and then she goes to converse with the other nurse in the office. Hellen’s telling me that she can’t do this, it’s just too hard. I txted my mother at that point after remembering that she had helped others to push correctly. The time difference in America was good cuz it was just early evening for her and she replied quickly with some instructions. I tried to pass the word on to Hellen as best I could but she was about giving up. I told her she was a very strong woman, carrying 4 jerry cans even on her bicycle. She still said she couldn’t do it, but then all the sudden she was doing it. Of course the nurse was out of the birthing room down in the office when the head starts coming out. I certainly didn’t know what to do once the baby started coming, so I called her from down the hallway. She came and when she saw the head she put her gloves on and started pulling the baby out.

2:40am I’m pretty sure that you don’t just pull the baby out, and I wondered how the poor kid’s neck was holding up, but he survived and came out and was set on top of Hellen. He didn’t cry much just a little whimper. Once the nurse cut the cord she took the baby to clean the stuff out of its mouth and nose. She slapped the feet a few times and the baby started crying. Oh yeah, it was a boy! Praise the Lord he was out and alive. Placenta, etc…were then delivered and the nurse was super mad because the black plastic sheet that Hellen was laying on had got moved a bit in the pushing and didn’t catch all the “stuff” and it got on her floor. So then the baby is sitting in the incubator thing, and hellen’s laying on the birthing bed and the nurse has got me and the friend of the old lady and the old lady cleaning the floor and the bed and everything else.

3:15am everything is cleaned up, I want to hold the baby, but the nurse says it’s too tired. I can imagine, but it’s not like I was going to make him run or anything. So he just lays there next to another baby who was born several hours before who was also “tired” and super petite (I found out the next morning that that baby did not make it.) Hellen is about to finish up her 6th Saline drip and I’m wondering where she’s going to go from there. All the beds are full in the “post birth” room and even the floor is full.

3:30am the nurse tells another lady who had delivered earlier in the night to move to another person’s spot and had that person move to another spot. Hellen now has a space cleared for her on the floor.

3:40am Hellen moves to her newly cleared spot on the floor just one hour after giving birth. No one else is close to having a baby yet so the second nurse also heads for the office for some shut eye leaving 50 or so patients unattended. The baby that is Hellen’s keeps crying. I try holding him and so does the old lady, and Hellen is exhausted, we can quiet him for a short time, but then he begins crying again, everyone else in this crowded ward is trying to sleep and our little baby is refusing to sleep. Hellen tries to feed him, but he won’t.

5:00 Finally she sits up with him and just starts praying thanking God and praying for her new baby. By the end of the prayer the baby had stopped crying and was resting peacefully. Hellen and the baby slept side by side on a thin matt on the cement floor as I sat on a bench somewhere watching the small rats run from place to place. Wow, what a day!

5:30am I’m now exhausted also and Hellen and the baby seem to be doing well and there’s no place for me to lay my head, so I decide to go home and sleep for a few hours.

6am-9am I sleep

10:00am I go back to the hospital and find Hellen sitting outside with the old lady and her auntie who has come to visit and bring tea. There was no place inside to be.

I had brought a skirt for her to wear since her other two now had blood on them and I called our guard to bring water b/c they were out at the hospital. Hellen went inside and got the health card and birth card and the baby got one shot and a few drips of some immunizations. She told me that I would be the one to name the Christian name and the old lady would name the other name.

12pm It’s time to go home. I go and get my car and we head for home. I told her I wanted to call the baby Nathan. She said it was ok. She nor the baby ever saw a doctor from several hours before birth up until she left. (I found out later that when she had first arrived the Dr. slapped her for having a white person with her).

1pm Arrive at home and give the baby a bath.

Still a lot of crying and not yet drinking anything. Hellen begins feeding with sugar water. Hellen’s husband the father of this baby, who decided not to come to the hospital at all was not at home when we arrived. When he did arrive he didn’t even greet the baby or ask Hellen how she was or anything, this culture is so different from what I’m used to. I told him, congratulations he had a boy. He left to go get water from the borehole. When 2pm I left I was a bit concerned about this baby, but I continued to pray because there was nothing else I could do. The next day Hellen called me and said the baby was still not eating kept crying, I didn’t know what she wanted me to do about it, then she says, “You pray.” So I hung up and that’s what I did. This whole experience made me realize just how dependant on our heavenly Father many of my Ugandan friends have to be. There’s no other option. And so they are blessed somehow through this fellowship of suffering with the Father a blessing in the states that we so often miss out on. The end.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

constant, unbroken connection

"If only I could make every child of His realize what it means that the everlasting God has given His dear Son, Christ Jesus, to watch over you every day, and that what you have to do is to trust. If only I could make His children understand that the work of the Holy Spirit is to enable you every moment to remember Jesus and to trust Him! The Spirit has come to keep the link with Him unbroken every moment. Praise God for the Holy Spirit! We are so accustomed to thinking of the Holy Spirit as a luxury for special times or for special ministers and men. But the Holy Spirit is necessary for every believer, every moment of the day. Praise God that you have Him, and that He gives you the full experience of the deliverance in Christ as He makes you free from the power of sin." Andrew Murray in Absolute Surrender.
This is one thing I've been learning here in Uganda. The desperate need that I have to be led along by the Spirit of God. There is so much need, there's so much that is just not possible depending on my own weak flesh. I need that connection with Jesus to remain unbroken throughout each day, and this is what Holy Spirit does for me. The Holy Spirit is the one that searches and knows the depths of both my heart and the Heart of God, and continually aligns my heart with His and my desires with His. Praise God with me for the gracious gift that is His Holy Spirit.

Monday, October 11, 2010

home visits

Went to the village the other day to check up on three of the girls that we took on retreat. The first one we visited, called Dina, we spotted along the road as she was running to her home. She quickly brought out chairs for us to sit in and then ran off to the local town center to get sodas and mandazies for us her guests. (the picture with pig is Dina's grandmother and Bena as we wait for Dina to come back.) she was running everywhere, we could tell she was excited to see us again. One of the difficulties in visiting people in the village is that they always want to prepare something for you the visitor and you can spend hours under a tree by yourselves while the host prepares something, then the whole point of visiting is missed. In this case we only had to wait about 30min for our host to sit down with us...she went to get the sodas, came back sweating, b/c she was running everywhere she was going, needed to bathe, than she finally came back to us when her brother told her to go get more sodas and mandazies for us, there she went running again, but finally made it back, I confirmed with her that she should not bathe again we just wanted to sit with her, allow her to share and pray with her. (this is us sitting and sharing)

Her story is a hard one. Her mother gave birth and then pretty much handed her over to the grandparents to raise, no one knows who her father is. Now her mother has died and she still lives with her grandparents. I should say with her grandmother b/c the grandfather is actually staying with his other wife a few kilometers away so he's not really around most the time. Her uncle is only 2 years older than her so he grew up like a brother of hers, yet the grandfather has refused to pay for school fees any longer for this 17yr old girl. she made it to her second year in secondary school when her grandfather thought it time for her to stop wasting his money and get married. But she didn't want to, she wants to go to school, we think her grandparents could even afford the school fees and yet they won't let her go b/c they don't want to waste money on her. sometimes the auntie that's around will say mean things to her and tell her to go find her dad, then she goes away for a week to visit another auntie and calm down and clear her head. She loves the Lord and we really see her come alive when dancing and doing drama. And she loves singing in choir at church. After she shared with us some struggles, we prayed for her and her family and went on our way. We headed to the next house..that of mary's. But I think that's enough posting for right now. I'll have to talk more about her in another post later on. Please be praying for Dina, especially that she might be aware of her identity in Christ despite those around her not caring for her so much. Also pray that somehow she would be able to go back to school again. thank you.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Keeper of our hearts

Wednesday nights is when the women from our team meet together for bible study. This last wednesday night I knew there would be much pain and frustration among the different team members, as we have been under what appears to be increased attack from the enemy. We decided to do a worship and prayer night instead of studying the bible. Jennifer and I were hosting. As each woman walked in the door that night I began to become overwhelmed with the burdens they were carrying. As we chatted I silently prayed for Holy Spirit to do His thing and minister to our hearts. As we began to worship and many of us began to weep I was reminded of how much Jesus cares for us. I slowly handed over each heart to him, confidently knowing that there was no one else who we could trust our hearts to like Him. I wanted to some how give peace and comfort to each heart, but I couldn't really even scratch the surface, however I saw Holy Spirit work in such a real way ministering to the hearts of us women as we ministered to our Lord. A deeper revelation and understanding of the perfect love of Christ came to me that night. I saw clearly the way He loves His beloved bride and longs for them to come to Him and offer their hurting, bleeding hearts to him. I was reminded of how he continuously intercedes for us, fights for us and how quickly we are to blame Him for not caring for us or forgetting about us. I thought of how much hurt was in a room of only 7 ladies, and yet wow, thinking of all the rest of the hurting hearts in Soroti alone none the less Uganda and the rest of the world. Praise God that He is big enough and caring enough to reach out to each and every one. Lord Jesus, thank you that we can trust you with the very depths of our hearts! Holy Spirit thanks for ministering to our hearts. Continue to lead us to the Father's heart. Thank you that what overwhelms us is not overwhelming at all to you. Your love is so much deeper.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Bible Study at Dokolo Begins

I have for the last week been watching my team leader's children as he and his wife have been in kenya b/c of infection. Today i took a short break from babysitting to begin a bible study at the primary school called Dokolo in Kamuda. It will last at least 8 weeks as a trial run going through this program called Book of Hope. If it works well here we will train others to also go into other schools and do the same thing. They've given us 23 kids who we will meet with friday's from 2-4. they're giving us two hours during their regular school day. anyway. today the kids were pretty quiet and timid, but I can't wait to see how God works in their lives and they become free to share with us. Please pray for the students at Dokolo Primary School that we will be working with for the next several weeks. That the heart of God would really be portrayed by Berna and I as we share with these students. When Berna asked them today how many of them had eaten lunch, only one out of 23 kids raised their hand. I remember how much trouble i have focusing when i haven't eaten in two hours, none the less all day...
thanks for your prayers... a few photos from the day...

Learning the memory verse, Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.

Drawing pictures of their families (i'll try to scan a few in once i get back to my house next week)

The school.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


spent just under a week in jinja going through a program called Transformation of the Heart. It was a time of examining my heart and listening to God. I'm still processing everything, so I'll have to write more later, but for now I just want to say I'm thankful that God is patient with me and only reveals as much stuff for me to work on as I can handle at a time. and so many times God gives us different names for Himself and yet still we cannot grasp, can't fathom Him really...His love...His patience...His persistence...all is but a shadow of what's to come. today i was learning about God as I AM WHO I AM. what stood out to me as i considered this name this morning. God knew that the Israelites would need that Name as they were about to embark on quite the journey. He knew that as they struggled through the wilderness and the unknown, that they would need to cling to the God who does not change, Who remains faithful, consistently, no matter what situation/circumstance they found themselves in. God says I WILL BE WHO I WILL BE. He is remaining the same great, faithful, loving, jealous God He always has been. This is the One who I cling to. And I tell you HE IS FAITHFUL and His heart is BEAUTIFUL and nothing can change that.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

the kamuda girls' retreat

Thank you so much to everyone who prayed for the retreat with the girls last weekend! I know God was working in their lives and is still working. I wish I could share more about the conversations, but to be honest, the majority of the conversations were held in Kumam, the girls' heart language. Bena led the bible studies or translated when I spoke if it was necessary. Bena would tell with me what the girls were sharing as she saw necessary. She shared that there was a definite sense of hopelessness for two of the girls, so please keep praying for them (Agnes and Dina). Agnes is the one stuck in a difficult early marriage situation and Dina is a full orphan whose grandfather stopped paying her school fees in the middle of senior high because he thought he didn't want to waste money on her as she would just get married and start having children. It was so good to see these girls free to laugh and enjoy themselves and God's beautiful creation, and learning from the word of God. They seemed to love the time they had there and even asked if we could extend it.

For me the hardest part was having to just sit and watch the bible studies. I wanted to be participating more in them, but I also understand how much better it is if it's done in their heart language. So I'm learning that the time when I'm simply observing I need not to get frustrated but use that time for praying for them as they talk. I'm still processing how we can do future retreats differently/better, but overall I'd do it again.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Retreating with Kamuda girls

I'm leaving tomorrow (friday the 3rd) for a weekend retreat with Bena and 4 girls that are on her drama team. I wanted to give the names of the girls and just a bit about them so you who are joining in prayer could pray by name. First there's Mary, she's about 20 or so years, she was forced into an early marriage (at 15yrs) by her parents so that they could get the dowry. When she moved in with the husband's family she was abused so ended up coming back home. She knows the Lord, so at least she finds hope there. Then there's Agnes she was also forced into an early marriage at 15yrs and she's not much older than that now. She does not want to be where she is now and has tried to move back home to her family again, but they began abusing her so that she would go back to her husband. they did not want to lose the dowry that the husband's family has already payed. She does not know Jesus yet, so please pray that His love becomes so evident to her this weekend. Then there's Dina and Teddy. Both of these girls know the Lord and that's pretty much all I know about them at this time. None of them have bibles, so i will be giving each a bible and trying to share basically how to read it on their own each day. Bena's also going to be leading some bible studies on our identity in Christ throughout the weekend, "I am God's Child" "I am bought with a price, I belong to God" and "I am the salt and light of the world." Please pray for these truths to penetrate their hearts and that they would be open to sharing and feeling free to ask Bena and I questions and share concerns and what not. And we want to take time praying for/with each girl. I'm really excited about the potential that this weekend holds. We are going to Sisysi Falls, which is a great place about 1.5 hrs away that is so beautiful and peaceful. It's so far one of my favorite spots in Uganda. Anyway, we come back Sunday morning. thanks for praying.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Praying and Preparing

The last two weeks or so have been pretty chill with most of the children on holiday and back at their homes in the village. It was good to have my friend Claudia visit from home and to have a week of quiet before things pick back up again. The Good Lord knows what we need. These next two weeks I will be doing a lot of planning and preparation for the next few months as I will be quite busy until at least January.

Some things you can be praying for:
I am teaching one missionary child, Lydia, 2nd grade, two days a week (math, phonics and reading, spelling and vocab, and health)

I have joined the choir at my church

I will be leading two bible studies for Senior High girls who are boarding at a school nearby

Bena and I will be leading a bible study for 20 jr highers beginning the third week in September and lasting I think about 8 weeks.

Bena and I will be taking small groups of Sr. High and post sr. highers on short weekend retreats focused on identity in Christ and Character of God.

Preparing for freedom camps for children who have been affected by armed forces that will take place in December and January and figuring out how to follow up and give continuing support after that.

Wisdom every day

That the deep in me would continue to cry out for the deep in God

My heart would be aligned with His heart

That our team would be more and more a team of prayer and intimacy with Jesus

Thank you for praying, these are the requests, the bare facts, though I'm sure there are more, please also when praying thank God for the work He is already doing and how faithful He has been in answering prayers. We serve a big God, praise Him with me.
Please if you could commit to praying for at least one of these items either email me or post a comment to say which one you will be praying for so that everything is covered. Or if there's something else you feel led to pray for you could include that in a comment or email.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

when nature calls...

I had two girls stay the night last night, Betty and Abella. I’ve mentioned them before, both are right around 12yrs old and have parents who are rarely or never around. We watched a movie before going to bed and during the movie I suggested that we drink our sodas, as they didn’t want them at dinner but to have them with the movie. Betty said she did not want hers until morning with breakfast. I said, that drinking soda with breakfast is a bit strange and wondered why she wouldn’t want it with the movie. Then it was like a light went on in her head. She thought out loud, “Oh yeah, the toilet is inside here. Ok, I’ll have my soda now.” It’s just not something a twelve year old in the states has to think about. If you have to go to the bathroom here, for the majority of the children I hang out with, it’s a shared pit latrine somewhere outside. And the middle of the night here is dark and I mean dark. It reminded me that I am not in the states anymore.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


I was just thinking this morning about sabotage. Nice light early morning thinking...i know. oh well. One of the frustrating things I'm finding here is how out of jealous and greed already desperate people are destroyed further. It happens in the macro sense and the micro. Warriors in one tribe raid their neighbors for cattle. Both groups are barely surviving and yet they go after one another and both groups suffer more unnecessarily. And then there's the story of the boy that escaped from the LRA after 6 years of captivity and he goes to find his land, his parents had been killed in front of him so they're not there, his relatives deny him everything, they've already claimed his land and now this one who has suffered years in the LRA now suffers as a homeless orphan on the streets. Then lately there's been jealousy showing its ugly face among some of the children and their families that visit our house. The grandmother of one is accusing the grandchild of the other trying to destroy her reputation among the white people. And I know this sabotage is done in the states too and around the world. Why is it so hard to be happy for others and not want them to get ahead? Why do the poor steal from the poor and ruin any chance of anyone getting ahead? Why do friends break relationship over the other's good fortune? The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy. We must pray for hearts of love and courage to withstand the attractive allure of the evil one. Oh that Truth would prevail and we would build one another up instead of tear down. That we would be wiser to the enemy's schemes and fight for each other rather than against. Precious Savior have mercy on us.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

AWP drama in Agama

The town center consisted of various “bars” (several circles of men around pots of brew sipping from long straws), a few women with some tomatoes and various other staples, and a one room clinic & pharmacy. I had come with Bena and her youth drama group; they were going to do a drama on HIV/AIDS. It was supposed to start at two, but Bena told me we didn’t need to leave until at least 3 since the drama team would not arrive till late. We arrived around 3:30pm and didn’t see any of the youth yet. There was a charismatic catholic mass going on at the place where we were going to meet the youth. We decided to join in the mass until the youth arrived; at least it was something to do. The room was filled with ladies on the left and men on the right, ladies on the floor men on the benches. There were some 30 women and maybe 8 men.Of the 30 women I counted at least 5 pregnant ones and there were many who already had young children attached to them. The singing was beautiful; I love just the voices with the djmebe drum. The “priest” had them read about the story of Martha and Mary on the day that Jesus visited their house. His teaching was opposite of what I’ve always been taught. After a while we went outside to look again for the youth, finally we saw some of them approaching from the distance, they had walked a long way, some more than an hour. By the time we had the whole group assembled it was about 4:30, by the time we made it to the town center and had everything set up it was about 5pm. Only three hours late. It didn’t matter much anyway, except that those who were drinking were more drunk. Overall the drama went ok, many people watched it, from babies to old men. I found it interesting the parts they found funny; to me often it was sad because it would be something bad that was so true to their culture.

I’ve found that even though there are many cultural differences between here and America, sin is sin, and causes pain and despair no matter the culture; substance abuse, greed/jealousy, sexual immorality, just to name a few. It broke my heart to see so many young fully capable men living hopelessly, stuck in the grip of alcoholism and poverty. Please pray for our team; that more men would join this team to reach out to the young men here. There are so many different organizations around town reaching out to orphans and widows, but so few to the men. They need discipleship and mentoring from men committed to following Jesus. They need to know that there is hope even when it seems like there is no hope. They need to know that Jesus can help them overcome.

this picture is of an old man asking his wife for money to continue drinking...you see the stick in his hands? he's willing to use it for more than just an assistant in walking...if she refuses he threatens with beating...what's a lady to do? You can see the look on the lady's face says a lot. what a hard position to be in.

some of the engaged audience during the drama:

one scene in the drama about HIV/AIDS:

Monday, July 26, 2010

Lake Nakurut Kenya

Some pictures from the time in Kenya:
Me and the giraffes...
Jennifer pondering the meaning of life...no probably just on the look out for dangerous predators...but i guess you could be pondering the meaning of life while on the look out for dangerous predators...especially since later that day we heard there were lions found in this area...woops...people, please stay in your vehicles...
this one's for you mom!
hmm...what have we here? I don't know, but it looks yummy!
this is me with a zebra in the background...i wanted some proof i wasn't just copying and pasting animal photos from National Geographic or something =)

Sunday, July 25, 2010


Here is my friend, co-laborer Bena with some small relatives amidst the cassava bushes. The poor boy has worn right through his britches.
This is me at Bena's mother in law's house with one of Bena's mother in law's neighbors harvesting g-nuts (they're really a lot like peanuts). we spent all day picking and if i was a paid laborer i would have made the equivalent of a quarter for my work. wow. but it was a good time with a good friend, so I didn't work for pay.

Pictures-in Omoro

These pictures are from our time with the former child soldiers in the Omoro area. Here Rachel (a teammate) is explaining how to play connect four.
Here Bobby (teammate) plays parachute games with some of the children.
Some races were run.
and books were read.
all in all it was a fun day. good to watch kids just being kids.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Why did the children cross the road?

The other day I was driving down the main road into Soroti with my friend Lawrence when I saw a group of very young school children on the side of the road. All of the sudden they ran across the road. Then they waited on the other side of the road and a handful of them ran back across the road. I thought this was funny (yet dangerous) game to play with small children…but Lawrence said that they’re being taught how to cross the street. I remember in Michigan when we were taught to cross the street it was make sure you walk, don’t run, remain calm. But here there are different rules to the road. You are taught to sprint to the other side because you just don’t know what could come down the road next nor how fast… after we passed the group of children with their one teacher, the rest of the students safely sprinted back across the street.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

wonderfully made

A poem one of the teachers at a school in Soroti wrote and shared with me:

I am Wonderfully and Fearfully Made

You are who you are for a reason
you're part of an intricate plan
you're precious and perfect unique design
called God's special creature

You look like you look for a reason
Our God made no mistake
He knit you together within the womb
You're just what He wanted to make

The parents who bore you were the ones He chose
and no matter how you may feel
they were designed with God's plan in mind
and they bear the Master's seal

No, that trauma you faced was not easy
and God wept that it hurt you so
but it was allowed to shape your heart
so that into His likeness you would grow

You are who you are for a reason
you've been formed by the Master's rod
you are who you are beloved
Because there is God

by Annet

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


I was at home this evening reading with a girl who ran into the house to dodge the rain. When another girl, one of 16 years came walking up the driveway looking a bit distraught. Dorcus. I wondered what was wrong, but all she wanted was an envelope so she could send a letter to her mother who lives some 2 hours away in the village. I heard the two girls discussing something, ending with, “I don’t know why she’s acting like that.” I asked who they were talking about and that’s when I got most of the explanation of her distraughtness. Dorcus normally lives in a house with her Grandmother, her uncle and his wife and their two kids and then one other boy. The grandmother had to go to the village to be with her first born son’s children because his wife was admitted to the hospital. This leaves Dorcus with just the Uncle and his wife as supervisors. The problem is, the auntie has moved out and now refused to feed any one but her own two children. Apparently this auntie beats her husband and drinks and is now refusing to care for Dorcus. Hence the letter home to her mother in the village. She wants to enquire of her mother if she should come home and live in the village now, because life is so hard here. And you know it has to be hard for her because life in the village is very hard and for that to be desired above here, means it’s that much harder here. There’s no secondary school there. So if she returns to the village her education is through. She doesn’t want to inform the grandmother about the way the auntie is acting because then the grandmother will feel pressure to come back and then who will take care of those grandchildren? Wow. It’s a lot for a 16 year old girl to figure out, and she’s just trying to figure out who she is, that’s enough trouble for any teenager. We prayed together and I was completely humbled by her prayer. She asked for wisdom and peace in her heart, and even that she would be able to praise God even in the trials she was going through, she prayed against satan’s attacks on her life trying to mess her up and distract and confuse her. Even though I felt completely unable to help this girl, I was so encouraged that she knew that our Father was there for her. She has a faith that will help her in this time of need. She knows she has a God who hears and answers even when she can’t tell how it will all work out. I’m thankful that when I’m feeling completely helpless that I serve a God who is able. And He reminds me I’m not helpless because I can call on Him.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

potentially dangerous waters...

Today I went to Aboket Primary School with Bena to form a club called Vision Club. We taught them about their identity in Christ, and how to be assertive so they don’t end up in early marriages or become pregnant before marriage, or involve themselves in other activities that would prevent them from reaching their goals. It was good to observe and participate some. This school is only one kilometer away from a very large lake that is in the middle of Uganda. We wanted to see the lake since we were so close, so we were told to just drive until the road ends and we would reach the lake. Well the road ended and we hadn’t yet reached the lake…but we continued forward in the vehicle a ways further, through some tall grass and bushes. Then we saw some people, we asked if we should continue to pass by car or to walk. They said we could continue by car, and a man ran ahead of us and waved us on. So we continued a couple hundred feet further, then decided to stop as the “path” was becoming even more overcrowded and we were getting quite near the lake. I remember as we were stepping out Bena saying something about snakes, but I quickly dismissed the thought so as not to become paralyzed in the tall grass. She said she feared them more than me, as if that helped comfort me somehow. Anyway, we started walking down the “path” until it turned into a small water “path”, where we were instructed to take off our sandals. I thought we were just coming to see the lake, but apparently we were entering into the lake…I saw ahead the man who had ran ahead of us was preparing a boat for us to go out in (he would be our transporter). I didn’t find it to reassuring that bailing all the water out of the boat was part of this preparation process. The boat was like a canoe made out of thin wood, nails and scraps of metal. The boat could not come to us, we had to go to it. Bena first, then me, then Brittney (a current unsuspecting short-termer with iteams). I could tell that the water was not that deep, but I could not see my feet. This concerned me a bit, considering that Bena’s comment about the snake was still quite fresh in my mind. But alas, we safely made it into the boat with only muddy feet and wet ankles. We took off and when we got out of the reeds and papyrus the lake opened up before us and it was beautiful. It was so quiet (no speed boats zooming around) and peaceful and calm. After a while I begin to help paddle and we begin our way out further. When Bena wants to know if we want to continue across the whole way to the other side or turn around and head back. She says this a little nervously, hinting that she would be more content safely back on shore, but also as a good Ugandan wanting to please. I then remembered a key fact; most Ugandans don’t know how to swim. I asked Bena, do you know how to swim? She says no and we all share some good hearty nervous laughter. I’d give her my life jacket, but wait, there aren’t any. Well, she was a trooper and we decided to cross the lake just to get to the other side. Every other little hand carved boat we passed laughed at us and greeted us. Bena began bailing water half way across, I’m sure that must have been disconcerting to her, but she was willing to do what she could to prevent herself from learning how to swim this very day. When we reached the other side we turned around and we actually collected a passenger who wanted a ride across the lake. Not only were we carrying him but his bicycle as well. But don’t worry our transporter says hes carried at least three bikes at a time on his boat and he’s even transported a motorbike as well. This is reassuring…somehow…so we begin our trek back across the beautiful lake. As we approach the reeds which signifies the trip is nearly over the transporter casually mentions in the local language something which includes the word “crocodile” which apparently sounds pretty similar in English. I quickly ask Bena for a translation. She laughs, not sure whether she should pass on this newly gained knowledge or not. I told her I understood one word, which seemed pretty important…right…crocodile. She then proceeds to inform me that they often see crocodiles here, and when she was just about finished informing me of that, the transporter adds, and Hippos. WHAT?!? Get me outta here. I’ve seen the wrath of those animals on TV shows. As we enter into the reeds, my ears and eyes are way more attentive than they were on our initial embarking. Every rustle, every moving shadow needs to be closely examined. The transporter tries to reassure us that they are not out usually at this time of the day. I felt reassured only mostly. Anyway, I started paddling faster and we made it to the other side. The transporter and the man with bicycle got out and pushed us as close as they could to dry land and we quickly climbed out and through the black water full of everything scary and finally reached dry land once again. No snakes, no crocs, no hippos, nothing but beautiful lake, calm waters and good laughs with friends. God knows what I need and provides. I have felt a bit sad or oppressed some the last couple days. I just wanted to be able to play. And today, I was given this beautiful adventure across the lake with my new good friend Bena. It was just what I needed and I am so grateful to God for blessing me with this day.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Kampala: Theories of driving

I made it back from Kampala, but not without developing some theories of driving in the big city. So far i have two theories that are quite over-arching and as long as you follow those you should be fine. I think once I think about it a little longer there will be some others as well. But the main theory that all other theories seem to hang dependently on is "The Theory of Self-Preservation." The majority of drivers out on the road do not want to see their vehicle damaged or themselves killed, therefore they do what they can to not get hit. For example: Say hypothetically you are driving down a two lane road with traffic flowing one lane in each direction. If the vehicle in front of you is going too slow and you want to pass but another car is coming, feel free to pass anyway as the car coming at you will either move over or slow down to avoid getting hit. Now if it's a big truck coming at you, they will not move over because they are big enough to hit you causing minimal damage to themselves. The other car may flash their lights at you, put their blinker on, honk their horn, but when it comes right down to it they will get out of your way. And if by chance you get scared and don't think they will move over you can always move back over into the other vehicle you are trying to pass because they too are looking to preserve themselves and so they will either slow down or move over. This theory also applies if you want to go around a massive pothole that would otherwise swallow you whole. You can go around into on coming traffic and they will generally get out of your way. I say generally because there are a few stubborn people that will drive right up to you and because of the theory of self preservation you will stop. Then you can remain nose to nose for some time until one person decides it's not worth the win and backs up and re-routes. The second theory which works because the theory of self preservation works is "The Theory of the Angle". This basically means as long as you can get the right angle you can cut any one off. For example, if you're at a traffic light that is red. A mob/blob begins building as you wait. Everyone pushes towards the front however they can. If you are on the right side of the blob and want to get the left side you just start inching your way in front of the car next to you. If you can get a sharp enough angle they have to let you in front of them because of the theory of self preservation. One time while stopped at a light I actually saw some one back up just a bit so he could get a better angle to change "lanes" and sure enough once he became more perpendicular to traffic he was able to move over. "The Theory of the Angle" also applies to turning on to a road from another road. it doesn't matter if there is traffic coming down the road you want to turn on to, you just have to find a big enough opening to get your nose in front of one car and the rest is history. even the person wanting to turn into traffic behind you can get in if he follows closely enough behind you and is able to maintain the angle. I've seen more than five cars enter into the road doing this. When the momentum builds it's hard to interrupt. This concludes the presentation of the first two theories of driving in Kampala. A note to the reader: You may or may not try out these theories in America and you may or may not be successful.

Monday, June 7, 2010

the weekend in Kampala

Had a nice break from the ICC conference this weekend and stayed with a family from America who is serving in Kampala area with Show Mercy. It's funny how even though i had never met them before (Jennifer had met them) I felt at home. The American connection was a nice refreshment. We watched La Tormenta (its a mexican soap dubbed in english that is so bad it's hilarious to watch), pippi longstocking and star trek, made pizza, and went to a church that had a heart of worship and good bible teaching. I was able to visit their ministry sites (one of which i had been to in 2007). It was good to see some of the children at the children's home that i had seen three years ago. They have grown (obviously). ok. That's a good update. now back to the conference.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Obalanga & ICC

Today we went out to a village called Obalanga. The roads there are mostly not paved and mostly not smooth, but we made it in maybe 1.5hrs. Obalanga is a place where refugee's from within Uganda set up camp back when the LRA rebels were wreaking havoc in the north of Uganda (2003/4). At once point the LRA surrounded the camp and didn't let anything/anyone in or out of the camp, needless to say it was bad and some 12 people on average were dying each day until finally the village created their own militia group and was joined by the Ugandan Army were they able to free themselves. International teams has used some of its money over the last couple years to help properly bury those who had died during that time by creating mass graves for the unidentified and individual graves for those who were identified as people would be digging their gardens and come across bones and bring the trauma right to their face again. The ICC (international criminal court) will be coming to Soroti and Obalanga tomorrow to see the graves and meet some of the kids affected by the LRA. We are doing a big portion in hosting these people. So today we went to Obalanga and tore out weeds that were growing very tall among the graves. it was a hot and long day. I couldn't help but see a lesson that God wanted to teach me as I was hoeing. As a follower of Jesus it's one thing to say I follow you Jesus and then just live on, but if i leave the garden of my heart weeds will come. If I don't let continually Holy Spirit into my heart and have Him cleanse me, my heart will be come choked out by weeds and will loose track of my purpose and my identity in Christ. Jesus isn't supposed to be just a one time decision, it is a constant relationship, a constant abiding. and He will make me more and more like Him. Ok, in my brain it makes sense, but i'm tired so don't know how well that translated into actual words.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

a few pictures from abim

kids in the training session

one-on-one with one girl who has lost her whole family to warriers

walking one of the girls home after training was over for the week