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.