Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Graduation and Business Training

At the beginning of the month I went to a graduation for my friends in Tororo, (a town a few hours south of Soroti). They have been attending a mission school called Youth Aflame for the last year. They are a couple that has blessed me so much. They are the first people that I have met in Uganda that truly feel called to missions and are willing to sacrifice to take time to go to missions school and live in a one room apartment (think of the room as the size of your bedroom, or a little smaller). They were graduating from their first year and now they have decided to continue on to a second year where they will focus more on missions to our m.slim cousins. They want to use business as a means to reach people with the love of Christ.
While I was there for the graduation we discussed the possibility of having a business training for some of the former child soldiers that I work with. We decided on a group of 25 youth from Morungatuny. The youth came for three days and enjoyed good biblical teaching on the basics of business. They did some big group teaching sessions:
They broke into small groups:
Even some young mothers came (we had 4 young ladies with babies who came), two of them had gone to a tailoring program and were happy to receive some more help in getting their tailoring businesses growing:
After the groups came back together, a leader from each group would share what information the group had to share:
Overall, we had a great time together for those few short days and we look forward to following up with these 25 youth in the future. It was good to see relationships being built and new creative ways of thinking coming out. I'm excited to see how God will use this training and these relationships that were formed in the future. Many of these youth were taken from their homes and from school when they were in their early teens, and after a year or two fighting in the bush some were not able to go back to school, or some got sent for a single year of vocational training or only finished their primary school education. Quality biblical business training is an important step in helping these youth gain freedom from dependency on foreign aid.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

life lesson #234

I just remembered this is a good lesson I learned the other day. So...I was trying to drive to Tororo to meet with a couple (ugandan wife and kenyan husband) who are passionate about missions and business. Tororo is about 95miles away from Soroti, so hypothetically, if one was driving at 70mph on a good road it would take just over an hour and a half to get there. But because of the state of the road it takes at least two hours just to get to mbale which is only around 65 miles away, then you have the other 30 miles beyond that. So, I had started the journey early knowing I wanted to spend as much time with these people as possible that day. I left soroti by 6:45am and after driving for around 40 minutes, the oil light started coming on so I stopped and called the mechanic (i had just picked the car up from him the day before!) and he suggested I come back and not continue on my journey. So i brought him the car and he dropped me on the side of the road at the far end of town to wait for public transport.
There are three main options for public transport from soroti to mbale and tororo. One is a taxi, aka a matatu, aka a van licensed to carry 14 passengers but usually pack in at least 20, aka death trap. Two, a bus, aka big bull in a china shop, doesn't seem necessary to slow down for any bumps, and doesn't mind running people off the road cuz they're bigger than every one else. Three, the back of an overloaded truck, not really an option for me, i've seen too many of them broken down on the side of the road, or rolled over in the ditch...Anyway, I met a man along the road who said he was a broker, whatever that means, and he informed me there was a bus coming soon that was going through Tororo to kampala and that would be my best option for getting there. I knew of this bus, called Post Bus, i'd often wondered at it's bright red paint and the newness look it had to it, thinking it was the best of all the buses that i'd seen (at least externally speaking), so I was happy to think that i might be able to catch that one and cruise on down to Tororo in style and comfort and in a timely manner. I waited for a while, i don't know how long really, maybe twenty minutes, but it seemed long (one man had already asked me to buy him water and suggested that I marry the broker, i suggested he could sell his nice shoes if he wanted water that bad, and I said I wasn't interested in the broker, he said he would sell me one shoe for 10,000, 4$), and i wondered if this bus was really coming. I had watched several taxi's come and go, and up to now i had resisted the temptation to just board a taxi and get crammed in the back with the other victims, or passengers, as they call them here. No taxi would go straight through to Tororo, all would stop in Mbale and then i would have to get another taxi from there. But as i waited the idea started sounding better and better. The man insisted the bus was coming, but i've learned through life experience here that, "it's coming" can mean in a few minutes or in a few hours depends on the person's perspective and general up-bringing perhaps. anyway, so finally when the third taxi came i decided to board and quit the waiting game. I boarded a half full taxi, which was my first mistake, after picking me they immediately headed in the opposite direction that i wanted to go, back into town, to pick more passengers, they wouldn't leave Soroti until we had at least 20 people crammed into that thing. And as we headed back into town, i bet you'll never guess what happened...yup...the beautiful, luxurious, bright and shiny red Post bus comes cruising down the road in the opposite direction. And I was trapped, i complained, i whined a bit, but when it came right down to it, there was nothing I could do. I had chosen my fate and had to suffer the consequences. So after the taxi wandered around town for a while we finally filled up and headed out, after about a half hour drive we had to stop just before a bridge and wait for about a half hour as construction machines were blocking the road. And of course I noticed that the Post bus had made it across the bridge before they blocked it. To say the least I was annoyed. I tried to have a good attitude, and what, but i could only keep seeing that bright shiny post bus cruising down the road, picturing myself comfortable and high above the ground, barely feeling the bumps. Then I would get jarred back to reality, by the crying baby and three other women in my row and the lack of shocks on this particular vehicle. The story continues, but I think by now you get the point. It took 5 hours to reach my final destination in tororo. it's hard to describe the smells, the heat, the bumps, the overloadedness, but try to use your imagination.
so...Let's apply to our lives now. How many times have we heard God say, "wait, I'm coming" and we wait for a while, but then think that we have a better way, a quicker solution, a more profitable idea, and we jump on that, only to find out it's leading us in the opposite direction. Oh to think if we could have just waited 5 minutes longer, or 5 days, or months, or years...whatever the time. What have we missed because we thought we were wiser than the One who knows us, our pasts, presents and futures. I eventually got to Tororo, but it took a lot longer and i suffered along the way. I thank you Lord for your grace that allows us to mess up, to doubt, to head in the wrong direction and yet you still pursue us, still call us back to Your self and still help us get to where you want us to be. Lord, help us to wait trusting You, and that you have good motives and good intentions for our waiting.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

new life

I suppose before i forget i should begin sharing another great experience that i've had at the main hospital maternity ward. After my experience there last year I should have been more prepared for what I would see/experience, and yet still somehow I was caught off guard. This time it was the sister to my ms.l.m friend N from the market. This is S's 8th delivery so she's done it a few times. She had bled long into her pregnancy and so her sister and cousins would joke around with her saying she'd been pregnant for something like 2 years, (it sounds like something like 15 months actually) I don't really know how it's possible or understand it completely, but all I know is what they tell me. Anyway, she's a bit old to be producing, in her 40's, and her last baby was born with the heart in the wrong place and died at birth. So, she'd been asking for prayers for a long time from me, even though I pray in the name of Jesus she doesn't seem to mind so long as I'm praying. When I came to the hospital I found her in the labor room, this is three beds in a room with one incubator for all of the babies. I found S suffering on one of those labor beds. the lady in the bed next to her had just finished pushing out her baby, but S had been told that her baby is stuck sideways and she'll have to go for c-section surgery if the baby hadn't turned by 2pm. So i came around 3pm and found they still hadn't taken her for surgery yet. They said they were waiting for the doctor who was currently in surgery with someone else. It's better if you don't have your baby on a saturday and I hear Sunday is even worse. They told her not to push, so every few minutes she would cry out in pain and try not to push, grabbing the nearest person to her and holding on. In this labor ward, as soon as you're getting on a bed to deliver you strip down completely and you'd better be ready to deliver, they don't have time for you to waste a bed when the head's not practically crowning already. I found when i got there that even the overflow room of three delivery beds was full, and i saw a young woman seated on the cement ground next to S's bed. I asked N if it was one of her relatives or what, she told me that no she was a patient. She was just sitting down and eventually i saw her get up and walk out of the ward, with blood on the back of her skirt. I didn't ever figure out what had happened with her, or if she ever got treatment or not. It's good that S did not deliver at this time as the one incubator already had four babies in it. I don't know if there was room for any more at that time...
Eventually the nurse told us we could move our patient to the theatre, or operation room. So N went and got the trolly and pulled it in the room and she and a couple of cousins helped put S onto the trolly. Her bed was immediately taken over by the next victim, i mean patient...As we pushed her out into the hall, the nurse said we had to wait for her to take us to the theatre, but that she had an emergency case just come in the door so be patient. I watched as two people struggled to lift a very pregnant lady from the ground and carry her into the labor room. So we rolled our patient on the only mostly operational trolly into the middle of the hallway in a room with about twenty beds and forty people. And there we waited. I don't know how long we waited, but it seemed like forever, many contractions, and our poor patient was hot on top and her feet and legs were so cold. And I was about to try to find the theatre myself. I just kept praying life and health over this woman and her baby. Eventually someone else came and showed us the way to the theatre. It's outside down this sidewalk, and then turn to the other side walk then around this building and up the ramp and back to the other side. From there we still waited as they were still organizing from the previous operation. As we waited we began talking with the anesthesiologist, at least that's my best guess as to what his role was in the operation. He said he wanted me to bring him a bible. I said I could try but could not promise. He then asked if I wanted to come in for the operation, I said, yes, I was hoping I could enter, he asked if I would pass out, I said no. We waited a while longer, the family shifted our patient to another trolly, and then on to a metal trolly and then finally they rolled her into the operation room. I quickly suited up, white gum boots, and green scrubs, mask and hat. Once we got her in the operation room, she again had to be put on yet another bed. The anesthesiologist gave her some drug and then put down the breathing tube and started hand pumping this accordian-looking thing and when he plugged in the machine it made the lights go out, but a little shake of the cord and it came right back. She was out quickly and they began to work, cutting her open, and then digging in, trying to find the baby, first i saw a hand, which the surgeon put back in, then a foot, finally, the head and out he pulled her. She whimpered a little and then they cut the cord with her hanging mostly upside down, then the midwife took her and began working on her, sucking out the junk from the mouth. At one point i looked over at the baby and she wasn't really breathing, just laying there and the midwife was pumping some oxygen into her and then kinda hitting her on the ribs from the side. and i was like, oh no, and then i looked over at S and blood started shooting out from one side and i was like, oh no, and then he clamped it and got that bleeding under control and finally the baby started really crying and she was going to be ok. I kept speaking life and health in the name of Jesus. they pulled the uterus out and put it up on her belly and started stitching it back up, then put it back in and stitched up the other layers. as they were stitching the midwife and I brought the baby out to the relatives and they were happy, after a quick photo with the baby

N took her the long distance back to the one incubator. I went back into keep praying over and watching over S as they finished putting her back together. The crew was tired, they talked of gun shot victims from earlier in the day, and the anesthesiologist tried to wake up S as soon as he could. we washed all the blood off her, and eventually she was "awake" enough and we again shifted her to the metal trolly and rolled her out the door into the other room, where the family again shifted her to the other trolly, and proceeded to roll her outside in the rain back to her room, down the sidewalk on the mostly operating trolly.
We eventually reached back to her "room" which is shared with many other people, but at least they have some little money, so they were able to pay for the expensive annex, at the equivalent of 2$ a day. it's a room with only 8 beds, but they are separated by twos, with curtains, so they're almost mostly private...from there the family shifted her again finally to her bed where she proceeded to sleep for some time. As she was coming in and out she began shouting in arabic that Allah is great. over and over. At first the IV wasn't working but after an hour or so the nurse finally got around to coming to get it working, having to switch the IV hand. Wow, i'm tired just reliving this story. Anyway, there's more to come in future, but that is the gist of it. Oh yeah, the baby is too cute, she weighed something like 3.7 kilos, an 8 pound baby, so that's a pretty good sized baby, and rightfully so, being in the womb for as long as she was. And they're calling her smaller Rebecca...not really sure that's a ms.l.m name, but i think it might stick... and a few photos from today, smaller rebecca is now 2 days old...



Monday, October 31, 2011

worlds apart

A couple of days ago I went to visit the homes of the children that play in my yard. My young friend Betty (almost 13) came with me, as we were bringing food for her family for the month up to her house. Upon reaching her home, she brought the food inside. The grandmother said thank you (the mother stays in the village and the father also lives elsewhere and neither one seems to care one bit about their three-four children). Grandma began talking to me in Ateso, I smiled, tried to listen for a bit, then got up and went to visit the mothers of the other children who come over most days after school. They all live in the same little area. I should have taken a photo, maybe next time. But try to picture...hmm...what to compare it with? maybe like single story apartment buildings, in a row, with 3-4 one room apartments each row...not one bedroom, but simply one room. this is where these guys stay. I greeted one mother, then moved on to another one, and as i sat down to talk with her many children came up to greet me, to shake my hand and to stare at me. I started patting one girl's belly, it seemed she had worms, i was praying for Jesus to remove the worms when Betty says to me, a funny thing happened to that girl, she was raped. I looked at that precious girl, and asked Betty what happened, if it was a relative or what, she said it was some drunk man from the nearby bars, and that he never ended up going to prison. I asked when it happened, she said when she was 3. I asked how old she is now, she said 3 and a half. wow. LORD HAVE MERCY! Then Betty casually mentions that those kind of things happen, where someone does something terribly wrong and then gets little to no punishment. She then proceeded to give the example of the lady who they just released from prison who had buried her child alive...LORD HAVE MERCY! So after this i continued to pray for this small girl, that Jesus would heal more than just worms in her stomach, those were the least of her worries, but heal her wounded soul. After visiting a couple more "houses" i left with Betty. She then mentions as we drive away that she doesn't like a certain woman whom I had just met because she's had two abortions. LORD HAVE MERCY! This group of apartments is less than a mile away from my house and yet it's a world apart. It's no wonder these kids love coming after school to play in my yard. It's just a beautiful green place where a kid can play and be a kid, instead of hearing and dealing with all the crap that is going on in and around their housing complex. Lord, have mercy on these kids, make my home a place of refuge, a safe place for people to come and experience the love and peace that only Jesus can offer. Come and let your life giving presence fill this place.

Monday, October 10, 2011

October 3

So we found out just in time that Hellen's birthday is October 3, 1979. She was able to ask an auntie who told her the correct date, just one week before the day of celebration. In some sense, I like knowing, now I can be prepared and really celebrate the day, however, I also, liked reminding her that I'm glad she was born every time that I saw her. How precious we are to our heavenly Father, we should be reminded every day, how glad He is that we were born, when we were born, where we were born, in which family we were born into....I leave you with the challenge today...tell someone that you are glad they were born, even though it's not their birthday and remind them of how precious they also are to our Heavenly Father, who has brought them about at such a time as this, and for a certain purpose. I've been learning just how important it is that we speak life into one another's lives. We choose to either speak life or death in whatever we say. Are we overflowing with the Living Water when we speak, or are we allowing the enemy to use our words to steal, kill and destroy? Let's speak life.
ok, so no one guessed the date of Hellen's real birth, therefore no one gets the prize, which unfortunately would have been a brand new helicopter. sorry.

Friday, September 23, 2011

How old is Hellen?

Everyday that my house helper Hellen comes I ask her if she has found out her birthday yet. I make some smart aleck comment along the lines of, "Hellen! today could be your birthday, what if it's today and I haven't even gotten anything for you?" Then she proceeds to try to call her sister who stays with her mother to find out when her birthday is. Usually the cell network is down so she's not able to reach, then if she gets through to someone either they are out of the house or the mother is. Hellen knows she was born in 1979. But that is all. She doesn't know the month or day, but thinks her mother does. Earlier this week her uncle called me looking for Hellen, after telling him she had already gone back to her home, I asked him if he had found out when her birthday was. He said it was February 2. I began rejoicing that we finally solved the mystery, but then he added, 1975. I remember that Hellen knew clearly that she was born in 1979, so I asked him if he was very sure, he said yes, that that was the correct date. I hung up not super convinced now that the mystery had been solved. I called Hellen and asked her, she stood firm on the year of her birth being 1979, as she said, her older sister, the one that had died already was born in '75. hmmm...so now is the day right and just not the year? or is the year and day right and hellen just always knew wrong? It would be quite the shocker to think you're 32 only to find out you're really 36. So now, I think we have to communicate directly to the mother and see if we can't solve this mystery yet...until then, I'll just keep giving Hellen a present everyday I see her, just in case (I know she's missed out on at least 32 celebrations...and maybe even 36). If anyone wants to guess the correct date, i can give a prize to the closest person...here's a photo of her to help you in your guessing...

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Bible Study Development

So, officially we've started bible studies with three of the five areas that I'm working in with children who have been affected by armed forces. They have been good. We had some 35 at one (Lotuke and Abim were combined in this one) and about 25 at the other (Omoro). But I feel like there is a problem b/c these areas are big and the youth are scattered throughout and some came walking to the meeting place and it took them over two hours to get there. Ideally we would break the groups into smaller groups, one in each parish (there are 4-5 parishes in a sub-county). But who will lead these groups then? We've sent multiple potential leaders through the Father-Heart encounter, but very few seem very interested in the children and youth's spiritual growth. Right now these bible studies are not self-sustainable. Please pray with me that God would reveal the next steps for creating smaller groups in each area. Or do I just work with one smaller group and try to get them started and then go from there? I need wisdom and discernment. The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few, pray to the Lord of the Harvest to send out more workers! For Him to bring forth the ones that are interested in serving these youth.
Below Pastor James is sharing from the Word of God at the Lotuke/Abim bible study, with a local pastor, Pastor David translating for him.
Here Berna is sharing a Word she felt the Lord put on her heart to encourage the youth.

I know God is able to do beyond what we ask or imagine, so ask and imagine with me with Him and see what He shows us and what He wants to do and what He's doing. thanks.

Monday, September 12, 2011

God answers prayers

So, today I was headed into town on my bicycle to drop some things off to a friend, when I spotted one of my neighbors also headed toward town. I stopped and greeted her and asked her where she was going. she said to market. I asked her if she wanted a ride, and she agreed. So she sat on the bicycle rack and we began moving toward town. I said, "I thought that you quit that job of running the shop and started selling cassava chips by the road side instead." she said "Thank you for your prayers, God answered our prayers and the lady who owns the shop came to me at home, after one week and told me she would increase my wages and provide lunch for me if I would come back." A couple months ago, I had visited her in the clothing shop in market. She was complaining that the owner lady was paying her little and not even providing her with money for lunch which she really wanted because she brings her baby with her to work. I explained to her that her heavenly Father cares for her and is the One who can provide, and I offered to pray for her right there from the store. Normally I'll just say, I'll pray for you and I do it from the privacy of my room, but that time I felt I should pray right then and there. So we prayed for the owner and for the increase in wages and the lunch money and now the lady has given it to her. She kept saying God answered your prayers the whole way into town. and she added that she's reading her bible now. It made me happy to hear this testimony of God's goodness. So many times lately I've had the opportunity to share with people about God as their Good Father who wants to provide for them and then I will pray for them. I felt this was a good reminder that my prayers are not in vain, that they are indeed reaching the ears of a loving Father, who wants to provide for His children.
I'm now remembering also, that this morning I was praying that I would be walking so well in my identity as the daughter of the King that anything that was not of Him would become so obvious to me. Now by this evening He's pointed out to me three distinct things that need to be taken care of in my life: my pride, my competitive spirit and my fear of close relationships. It wasn't until just now (at the end of the day) that I realized it was another prayer that God answered. And though it hurt my heart to realize those ugly things are still within me, I'm so thankful that He answered that prayer and that He's working on those things. And that I cannot remain the same. He is faithful to complete the work that He has began in me. He is bringing me from one degree of glory to another, changing me into the image of Christ. And for that I am eternally grateful. He's a faithful Father who takes good care of His children.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Bible Study: mission hospital

Today i went out to kamuda to pick up members of our bible study to bring them to the main hospital in soroti because one of our members is going to have surgery tomorrow. Somehow we packed about 23 people into the 10 seater van, with an average of over 2 to a seat, i'm glad that as the driver i did not have to share. There was excitement in the air and a sense of camaraderie, and beautiful sounds of singing from the youth as we drove the 16 kilometers from kamuda to soroti. We found our patient quickly and we encouraged her and prayed with her and for her. While we were still praying with her we got a request to go pray for someone else. We decided to divide the group up into 4's and scatter out over the entire hospital to pray or to help wash clothes or cook, or what ever was needed by the patients.
The other leader Paul, and myself had tried to find our patient, Apio, on friday last week b/c we heard she was in hospital, but when we reached we found she was not yet there, but we ended up praying for every single person in ward two, which is the female surgical ward. we prayed for broken legs and arms, for "removed spleens," for infections in the feet, for swollen abdomens, different length legs and "bent ribs" for people from old, old ladies, to strong young ones. It was an experience, at least three of them had accepted Christ, and more were encouraged as our sisters in the Lord. All that to say, it was nice to go back to the same ward today and see how they were progressing and to encourage our new sisters in the Lord. It was good to see the one with the "removed spleen" eating rice and meat today. She's a a young widow with many children.
But back to the original purpose of this post...Please pray for Apio Mary as she has her surgery tomorrow. I wish I could answer what they are operating on, but i'm still not sure...a lot gets lost in translation...but at least i think it involves some pain and puss around the hip area from a fall that happened several years ago...that's why i'm still not sure. but anyway, she needs our prayers.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Father Heart Weekend

So I've been a bit busy, but let me at least give you a picture of what my days have been holding. Two weeks ago I took a group of former child soldiers from Morungatuny to the Father Heart Encounter. Most of these youth were abducted in 2003 and have stayed in the bush from any length of time, from 1 day up to about 3 years. All are traumatized by the experience, no matter the length of time.
Even though most of their trauma happened many years ago, many still have fear and shame built up inside of them. Here's a picture one of the boys drew this last trip of himself before and after the Father Heart Encounter. At the top of the photo it says Alau Patrick is not feeling well because of the LRA War in Teso. And it says God is able on the left side:

And here's the after picture, on the top it says Alau Patrick is feeling well, on the left side it says God has saved me, and the right side it says, because God is able:

It's really amazing to see the transformation that happens in just three days of feeling and learning about God's Father love for them. These pictures help explain it a bit better than words.
Then I thought I would throw this next picture up also as after a 4.5hr bus ride from Jinja to Soroti, the youth loaded this truck for another two hour journey to their home sub-county, and then some live another hour's walk from the sub-county headquarters where they will be dropped by the truck. It's a long journey. This is them as they loaded on to the truck. They were still surprisingly happy. The guy in the bottom right of the picture is a local salesman trying to sell Passion Juice to the travelers.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

the Grace of God

I was flipping through my journal and came across an entry on the 9th and I felt I should share it here. I'm learning to listen to God as I pray, asking Him questions and waiting quietly for the answer. I was asking Him about all of the children affected by armed forces that I'm working with, regarding next steps and just generally not sure how I can best disciple them all. Anyway, His response was as follows, I hope it can encourage you as it encouraged me. "Grace and peace to you. You have My life in you, you have My words, you know I am always with you, you know I go before you and behind you. Surely I am gracious to you and my people. I am the one who will captivate the people, I am the captivator of hearts. I'm the one who draws them to myself. I'm capable, I'm sovereign, nothing is out of my grasp. Do three things, short bible study, worship me, intercede for one another and intercede for the children who have been and still are being abducted. I will give you the story to share each month. Don't mind. Leaders will emerge. I am drawing My people to Myself, My will, will be done. The light will pierce the darkness and the darkness must flee. Cling to the light. Cling to my Son Jesus, cling to Me, to my Spirit and you can not be led astray. Surely I know the plans I have for you, to prosper you and not to harm you. You will fail, but I will not. So don't worry, don't give any room for doubt or fear, they have NO PLACE with my children, for I am bigger and stronger than any evil. I am drawing my people to myself. Don't mind. I can be trusted. I am working all things out for the good of my church and my glory. Trust me beloved. Trust my heart for you, for my people. I'm in love with you, with my people. My heart is good toward you. Delight yourself in me, as I delight myself in you. Surely goodness will follow you. I long to give you the desires of my heart. I long to give you everything you want, but I know what is best for you." and my response could only be, Lord I am not worthy, you make me worthy, you make me able to receive from you, apart from you I have nothing. nothing. nothing. I bless your holy, holy, holy Name.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Precious Betty


Maybe you've heard me mention a girl called Betty before. She's 12, her mother lives in the village with a new "husband" and her father tells her that she is not his daughter. She stays with her grandmother and two brothers and her sister in town here. Her grandma has no income except by begging, and she drinks, she lies, and she used to beat them (but she's getting too lold now) All this to say, Betty's had a pretty rough 12 years of life already. She's in the equivalent of maybe 3rd grade, but she should be in maybe 5th or 6th. But she can't read, well, she's trying to learn. And I must say she's getting better. We think she has some learning disabilities, maybe dyslexia or something of that nature. She often comes to our house after school, I used to get annoyed at her always being around asking for food and things, but then God reminded me about myself at that age. When I would come home from school my mom would always be there giving me a snack and listening to my day. I realized she had no one to do that for her. I realized I needed to listen to Betty like I was her mother. She needs that figure in her life right now and she just doesn't have anyone else to fill the role currently. Anyway, today I was listening to her talk about her day at school. She said today she's bothered by the kids at school. One boy today called her stupid and said she was good for nothing. She said it made her cry. It almost made me cry hearing it from her. She said she just kept quiet and then told the boy that what he said hurt her feelings and then the boy kept quiet. She said after that she kept thinking about what he said, and how she was stupid and good for nothing, but then something occurred to her, she remembered that God has a purpose and plan for her life. She remembered that He created her the way He did for a purpose. She then began feeling ok again. Praise God! Shortly later we spent time praying together thanking God for speaking to her like that and asking Him to continue to encourage her heart and draw her closer. I was so proud of her. When I first met her I know she would have just beat the boy up or shouted something else mean back at him. God is softening her heart, and I feel so honored to be a part of sharing His heart for her with her.

If only...

Today I went out to an area to mobilize some youth because it's their turn to go for the Father-Heart weekend. We reached the pastor who was going to do the mobilizing of the youth. He began looking over the list of youth that we wanted to send. I was glad to hear that many of them are in school, but as he reached the bottom of the list, he said, oh this one, he can't go, he's in prison. He went on to share that the boy killed his mother's husband. Apparently the husband had beat the wife bad enough to send her to the hospital, the boy became angry and went and killed the husband. What a shock! As we pulled away I just kept thinking, if only we had taken this boy to the Father-Heart weekend earlier, would this have happened then? Now this young man could spend the rest of his life in prison... If only he would have learned that his heavenly Father loves him so much. If only he could have learned the power of forgiveness and love. If only, if only, if only...now I picture him sitting locked up, a dark, hot room, dirty, over-crowded, if only, if only...
It reminded me of the importance of what we're doing with these youth, God is literally saving their lives as they learn about His love for them and about forgiveness and grace. And as for this young man, I know the Lord is able to redeem any restore any person. So...instead of saying 'if only, if only' I am praying for him, that the Lord would meet him there in prison, he would learn about that love and forgiveness and he would be free-er than ever even, while he's locked up.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Bless the Lord!

This morning I was surprised by the blessing that came to me through the reading of 1 Chronicles 29:10-20. It's one of those books I've only read thoroughly a couple of times and so when Kay Arthur said to read those verses (I'm doing a bible study that is by her), to be honest I wasn't expecting much...and then I was hit by... "Yours, O LORD, is the GREATNESS and the POWER and the GLORY and the VICTORY and the MAJESTY, for ALL that is in the HEAVENS and in the EARTH is yours." Wow. We serve a big, big God. Then David goes on, "Both RICHES and HONOR come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are POWER and MIGHT, and in your hand it is to MAKE GREAT and GIVE STRENGTH to all." David had just finished giving tons of gold and silver and bronze and copper and timber and other stuff for the building for the house of God, also upon asking the other Israelites to also give what they could for the building of the house of God, the Israelites also gave willingly. Instead of complaining and saying, oh man, why do i have to give this stuff for the God's house David and the Israelites bless the LORD and praise Him for the opportunity. what?? "But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from You, and of Your own we have given You." and again he says, "O LORD our God, all this abundance that we have provided to build You a house for Your holy Name, it is from Your hand, and all is Yours." There it is...There's the key. David recognizes that all of the stuff they gave to God, came from Him in the first place...why do I always forget that??? I feel happy with myself when I just give 10% back to Him, like I'm doing Him some kind of favor...Lord help me to give willingly and thankfully...
The other thing that I felt challenged by this morning as I read, was that I AM A TEMPLE FOR THE LIVING GOD. How well have I prepared, and kept myself as a house for my God? David says, "I know, my God, that you test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness. In the uprightness of my heart I have freely offered all these things, and now I have seen your people, who are present here, offering freely and joyously to you." Do I offer my God an upright heart? Do I offer Him myself freely and joyously? David goes on to pray for himself and his people, "keep forever such purposes and thoughts in the hearts of your people, and direct their hearts toward you." I prayed with David this morning that God would help me to have a heart continually surrendered, freely and joyfully, for the habitation of my GREAT, POWERFUL, GLORIOUS, VICTORIOUS, MAJESTIC, RICH, HONORABLE, and MIGHTY KING. Bless the Lord with me today! This GREAT, POWERFUL, GLORIOUS, VICTORIOUS, MAJESTIC, RICH, HONORABLE, and MIGHTY KING chooses to reside in the hearts of His people, in you and me. wow.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

observations at a Mslm funeral

Jules*, so tough, yet so loyal, faithfully carrying her friend Natalie out of the mourning room, laying her on a matt and then settling herself just behind her friend, ready to serve her however she could next. Mama Natalie giving her daughter local medicine for grieving and ripping off branches and leaves to carefully hold over her grieving daughter, protecting her from the sun. It was Sara who had first came and called for Jules and Molly to carry Natalie out. The big sister caring for her follower, carefully watching over her. Molly, another seemingly tough one, and yet I find her crying at just the sight of others crying, she weeps with those who weep....but don't mess with her or her friends. 4 guys pass by carrying one women who is beside herself with grief, and shortly after another unconscious griever gets carried by. This is serious weeping, weeping with no hope, no assurance. The two Mary's keep quiet, ready to do what needs to be done, go get a matt, go get medicine for headache, go get whatever, and it's done. They don't know what happens when someone does. Do they go to heaven or hell or what?
Natalie grieved very hard. What started as gentle tears and soft gasps worked up into violent heaves and streaming tears. Unable to remove herself from before the body, this is when her faithful sister called for help with transport. Does she grieve because she's regretted things in the past? Grieve because her two young children are now fatherless, and she herself a widow at 33 years old? Grieve because she still loved the man though they had been separated for a couple years? Grieve because a young man's life was cut short, what had started with such potential ended so suddenly, Hepatitis took this man's life, slowly and yet so sudden. Does she grieve as one that missed the chance to share the Good News, having herself not committed to the Good News? Will she one day weep at the foot of the cross? I wish I could understand the language, speak the language. I wish I could offer words of encouragement, but as far as I know this man is in hell. And now it's too late. Maybe it's better that I can't communicate so well. Now the rain has started, somehow the way Natalie began crying, slowly, quietly and then increasing in volume and intensity. Our Lord is crying with her. Weeping with those who weep. He wants to give her hope. He wants her to know just how close He is, just how much He cares. He wants to reveal to her there's a better way. Oh Lord, let nothing hinder her heart from becoming fully devoted to you. A lady comes in late. Crying, shouting, what's she shouting? she's shouting, "What has the dead left for me?" Seems selfish.
*no real names were used, though the experience was all too real.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

angry and afraid=unwilling and distant

I've been back in Uganda now for nearly a month, but have only spent something like 5 days, maybe 6, in soroti. After I first arrived in Soroti, a few days later Jennifer (my housemate/teammate) became quite sick with malaria and had some other symptoms we weren't sure about so we went to kampala and jinja totaling being gone about a week. Then upon reaching soroti once again i had some 3 days before heading with a group of youth from the village, who have been affected by armed forces, to Jinja for a Father Heart Encounter weekend. After that weekend, I've stayed in Jinja for another week to help out that ministry (mto-moyoni.org) by staying on the compound while the two leaders went to go do a training in Holland. Besides doing one bible study in the village and one father heart weekend I feel I haven't done much ministry since returning. i'm itching to get back to soroti and being able to follow up with youth again. But while staying at Mto Moyoni I know the Lord has some things to teach me and I am enjoying spending some much needed alone time with Him. hmm...this is already longer than i thought it would be...oh well...so...I realized when I first started staying here I was avoiding time with my Father for some reason. I couldn't tell what it was, but I would do anything but get quiet with Him. I finally realized what I was doing and began asking Him to point out what the deal was? What thing had happened, or what was I thinking that I wanted to keep Him at a distance. We made some headway, over the next couple days I'm happy to say, but I think it was a compilation of many things. Anyway, this morning during my quiet time I was doing a bible study on David by Beth Moore and some of her cronies. She was taking me to the time just after Uzzah touches the ark of the Covenant, trying to steady it from falling off the cart, and God kills him. Here they were having great celebration bringing the ark, the very Presence of God back to their own people, and then God has to go and do something like kill the guy who was only trying to help. (but they shouldn't have been carrying it on a cart in the first place, but that's for another day...) Needless to say "Then David was angry because the LORD’s wrath had broken out against Uzzah" (2 sam 6:8) and David was afraid of the LORD that day and said, “How can the ark of the LORD ever come to me?” (9) and so, "He was not willing to take the ark of the LORD to be with him in the City of David. Instead, he took it to the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite" (10).
David was angry at God for what He had done and also afraid of Him and so he wanted to keep him at a distance. I think we could say he was offended by God somehow. I've never done this before, and I'm sure you haven't either....right... actually we do it all the time. God showed me through this bible study that that was how I was behaving. Some how He had offended me, i became angry and afraid of Him and decided to keep Him at a distance because it seemed safer that way...But like David was a man after God's heart, I want to be a woman after His heart. "Now King David was told, “The LORD has blessed the household of Obed-Edom and everything he has, because of the ark of God.” So David went to bring up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing"(12). When David saw how being near God was a good thing, how it brought blessing, when he was reminded of God's faithfulness and goodness he longed again to be near God. And was again rejoicing as the presence of God came near. So today our loving Father was encouraging me to not get offended by the things He causes to happen, or allows to happen that don't make sense to me...instead...draw near. For it is our nearness to Him that is our good. God wants to be near to us, to struggle through things with us, but are we not willing? Let's be willing, He longs for us to return to Him with our whole heart. Thank you Father for this loving reminder to me this morning and forgive me for being offended by You, and thank you Beth Moore for serving the Lord through providing this study of scripture.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

waiting

I'm waiting today. A simple drive from Jinja to Soroti. 3.5hrs normally. well we made it about 40 minutes to a town called Iganga. Then the brakes started giving me trouble. They would only begin engaging at the end of the depression of the pedal. So we stopped. In my opinion you need reliable, responsive brakes when it comes to driving in Uganda. Let's see, we stopped around 8:45am, it is now 2:14pm and we're still in the same place. First they had to diagnose the problem, then they had to look for the part. No, the part is not in Iganga. It's the "servo" that needs to be replaced, apparently...After searching Iganga for the part, they searched their own "yard" they found a dilapidated truck that they thought might work, but alas, it was just a bit too big. Now we've called our mechanic in Jinja and he is searching all of Jinja for the part. If it's not there, they will try Kampala. I've already gone to the bathroom a couple of times, gone to eat lunch, finished one book and started another, i've watered the plants that we're carrying with us, looked for hidden treasures amidst the junk that lies scattered over the yard, i've watched many people (the way I love being watched), and I've called many people trying to figure out the car situation and the situation with Jennifer. Jennifer is with me and not feeling well. She's gone up and down since Monday, feeling somehow better, but not quite there yet. She just wants to sleep and the back of the car is not the most comfortable, and the car that was once parked in the shade has sat long enough that it is now in the sun to add to the discomfort,...but she's trying. What should we do with her? More tests or does she just need more rest? We've been out of Soroti since tuesday morning in one clinic and then another. We're both tired of running around and the guessing game. The Dr.'s number won't go through b/c her network is down..."temporarily." The clouds appear to be building now, if we're lucky it will begin raining, but if at least the clouds brought some much needed relief from the sun we'd take that too. Well, I just continue to write because I don't know what else to do. I think I'll go pray. My friend's house help told me to start praying double b/c of the times we're in...maybe I'll take her advice now. Why do I want to fill my mind with information? why not just close my eyes and fix them on Jesus for a while??? Hmmm...seems like a good idea. Still waiting, but I think i'm going to use my time more wisely now...peace out...

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Just another day in Kamuda

I traveled out to Kamuda for bible study on saturday. I left around 2:30pm for our 2pm bible study and it takes about 15-20minutes to get there, so just before 3pm I reached the location and found no one else had arrived. I feared the worst. That they had stopped meeting while I was gone. I called one of the young men I expected to find there and he informed me he was at home, but he was coming. And sure enough slowly by slowly, one by one they came. We finally started around 4pm. One of the youth (she's the oldest, somewhere around 30something) had been put in charge of leading the bible study portion. She arrived just before 4pm. We were just about to start (there were about 8 of us) when a drunk man came over and shook my hand and held on for about the next 5 minutes or so, telling me thanks for reaching up to their village there and could we get a couple pictures together and could I tell america that, "the complaining dirty man in kamuda greets them." So consider yourself greeted. By the time I could pry my hand loose and re-engage in the group one of the other members had left. So now we were waiting while others looked for him. Alas, he was not to be found, so we decided to just start. We sat on two benches facing each other, just outside a clinic. But because Mary wanted to share the word with those waiting around the clinic she turned her back to us and began preaching. (My best chance at a translator was the one who had mysteriously left during the conversation with the drunk man.) It's hard to tell if any one of the clinic people were listening, but the group seemed to be paying attention, I was praying that people would hear only truth. After some time most of the people from the clinic left and a couple more had arrived from the group and mary turned and faced us and continued. When she was about finished, she still had about 4 verses to go through from Romans 1 (so i had gathered) the group leader, Paul, came and then Francis came back from where ever he had gone and he brought with him dina. As Mary finished and Paul and I added to it, a few more joined and we ended up being somewhere around 15 I think. I was so encouraged that they had not given up meeting together. I also saw that they had taken attendance at least three times while I was gone and an average of 8 young adults were showing up every week. Praise the Lord! After we finished the bible study portion it was around 6pm and I was ready to go home. However, Paul and Mary requested that we pray for the sick that were in the clinic. We've done it a couple times now and it's been quite a good time of reaching out. I said ok and we all entered into the first room. I walk in to see to men both sleeping, and appearing to be quite sick, they say with malaria, but it's aways malaria. there were three beds in this approximate 10' by 10' room and now we just added about 20 people. So needless to say the room was a little crowded. Then Paul tells me we will not talk to the patients since we shouldn't wake them because they probably need the rest. So we'll just pray for them while they sleep. Well, what better way to start prayer time then to sing a worship song. And 19 ugandans and 1 mzungu (me) aren't the quietest singers, for we love worshipping our God. Therefore, by the time we finished singing, the patients were mostly awake and probably wondering what the heck all of these people were doing in their room, and why wouldn't they just keep quiet or perhaps wondering if they were in heaven.... but i don't know that for sure. Because the patients had "conveniently" woken up, we were able to ask them if they knew Jesus and then pray with them to accept Him. One man I was told was too tired to speak, but I was assured that in his heart he accepted Jesus. (Don't know how this was known exactly, but the man was saying ebo (yes) and some other grunts and groans to certain questions...) And the other one prayed out loud to receive Christ. I pray that the Lord protects these seeds that were planted and these men come to know God in a real and intimate way. We concluded with more singing and then headed out the door. It was now about 6:20pm and I was again ready to go, but was informed there were more patients in the building behind. Yes, of course we could go and pray for them also. So we went behind and I was asked to pray for a lady who had a baby earlier that day while paul prayed for a sick young woman and everyone else would join us with their own prayers. While praying I heard another baby crying who sounded quite young, but I couldn't see him. Just after we finished praying a lady walked out holding a baby and Paul asked me to bless this one also. I walked over to the baby, pulled back the blanket and saw the hair was still matted with "stuff", I asked when was this baby born, they said, now-now, which would explain the other cry I had heard...don't worry this wasn't the mother holding the baby, but in about 5 minutes the mother did walk by and lay down by the baby. These women are tough. So everyone had been prayed for and we all walked out. While walking out Mary (in her very broken english) asked me if I could stop by her home on my way home to pick up some white ants (the termites that they love to fry and eat). She wanted to give them to me as a welcome back present. How could I say no? So I brought her and Dina and francis with me in the car. First we drove deeper into the bush to drop off dina, then swung by mary's to pick up the white ants and then i dropped off francis and then headed for home. I think I reached about 8pm with ants and mangos in tow. Now that's a long bible study. Though it was long, it was good. Please keep praying for this group called Alive With Purpose in Kamuda. They are hungry for the word. Pray that God would raise up leaders among them and that their community would be transformed by the Word of God.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Departure Q&A

As I sit in the airport awaiting departure...wow...a lot has happened in the last year. Will I be able to accurately articulate every detail, each story? No. Am I the same as when I left america some 361 days ago? no. i cannot be. can i describe the transformation that has occurred in my heart and in my mind? no. will people at home understand completely? no. how could they when i can't even understand for myself? Will i miss white ant paste? no. will i miss eating bush rat? no. will i survive in the fast lane, that is america? no.ok. yes, but it will be challenging. Will i get frustrated with my inability to express things and others inability to understand? yes. will i enjoy cheese again? yes. will i be able to safely drive a vehicle following all traffic laws in the US? no. do i feel i have done enough here? no. will it ever be enough? no. do I trust Jesus with the rest? yes. will i miss bible studies in kamuda on saturdays? yes. will i miss father heart weekends with former child soldiers? yes. will i long for the quiet and peacefulness of the village? yes. will i miss primary school pit latrines? no. will i miss visiting nuru in the market? yes. will i miss carrying nathan on my back as hellen and i ride our bikes from her home to mine? yes. will i miss teaching lydia? yes. ok, i think you get the picture. i will miss many things. however i'm only gone for 6 weeks. i'm more concerned with my time in the states. will i freeze up when i walk into the cereal aisle and find cereal as far as i can see in both directions? will i generally freeze as i adjust to sub-80 degree temps? will i visit everyone i want to and still find time for rest and recreation? will i hide in the corner or sleep underneath my bed? i could go on. The Lord only knows, and I'm thankful that I've learned to hand over each and every person to Jesus and thank Him as He lovingly walks beside them. I know He also is lovingly walking beside me and I'm so thankful for this past year. Oh the experiences. Lord help me to articulate, to understand, to process, to share, to love, to be patient and to experience your grace that is there for each day.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

He's Waiting

I went to the market this afternoon for a few things. I greeted my friend Nuru as I always do when I go to market. For those of you who don't know, she is a m.sl.m and she is one of my friends here. She entered my life a few days after a teammate prayed that each of us on the team would come to know a m.sl.m by name so we could begin praying for them by name. She has become a friend, she helps me when ever i need to know the best place to buy something, she'll escort me around market. I help her sometimes giving her a ride in my car or on my bicycle. Anyway I keep sharing with her about Jesus, but she is not ready yet to give her life to Him. Today after I got my few items she was ready to go to prayers so I walked with her towards the m0sque. This is the second time in a week I've walked her to prayers. Man, it feels like I'm walking her to her other lover when I should be walking her to Christ. I think of God's jealous heart for His children and how He longs for each of them, and how they are His precious bride. And Nuru has the opportunity to come to Christ and experience his pure love, but now she's with another lover, one that will never satisfy, one that she could struggle her whole life to please and still die not knowing whether or not he accepts her. How I long for her to know the peace that surpasses understand, the easy yoke and light burden, the abundant life, the loving Father, His precious Son, and His Spirit within us! Please pray with me for her. She has become a good friend and my heart is burdened for her.

Monday, March 21, 2011

a "temporary" bridge story

So back on the 4th of March I headed to Sisiyi Falls with 4 guys from the village in Kamuda. This was the 4th such group that I've taken. Mostly on the way there the roads are ok. We travel on pavement (mostly with car-sized potholes) for about an hour and half, and then a marram (like dirt) road for the last 15min. Back in May or June of last year a bridge got washed out somehow on the marram road. They quickly made a temporary bridge out of wood mainly 4x4's for the support and 2x6's for the road portion. It would always sway a little but as we crossed but overall it felt pretty secure. I never really feared for my life. Anyway, this 4th of March trip was a little different. You see the original bridge had still not been rebuilt so the "temporary" bridge was still there. It had of course seen better days, and looked more like it had been patched together over the last couple months and I feared as we made our way closer. The boys in the back were also a bit concerned, but I said a quick prayer and crossed. We made it. We enjoyed our time at sisiyi falls. And then came sunday when we had to cross back over the "temporary" bridge. This time as we approached we saw some ladies who had been standing on the bridge walk slowly away, each lady carrying some small pieces of wood. (were they taking parts of the bridge for firewood?? I don't know) It made me a little more nervous, but we prayed and crossed again. Yes! Success. Now that brings me to this past weekend. This time our team was going to Sisiyi Falls for a two-day time of fun and refreshment together. I shared with Jennifer that I was thinking maybe we should all walk across the bridge and let the driver alone cross or something like that, because it didn't seem too secure last time I was there. But as we approached the bridge this time it looked good. Almost like the original "temporary" bridge before the patchwork. The other people on the team wondered why I was so concerned about this bridge when it looked so good. When we reached to sisiyi. I was talking to Margaret (she's a worker at Sisiyi Falls Garden). She told me that the day after we left last time, back in the beginning of March, a car went down with the bridge. She assured me that there were no casualties, at least immediately...and she went on to inform me that they just finished repairing the "temporary" bridge two or three days before we came this time. I'm thankful for the Lord's grace protecting us as we traveled that last time, when the bridge had only one day of life left in it. And I'm thankful it was repaired in time for us to come back. Now we wait maybe 3-6 months for the real bridge to be repaired...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Transformed lives in Abim

I went to Abim on Monday to follow up with the youth who had been to the Father Heart Encounter last month. Many are full orphans and some have either just a mother or father still alive. All have been affected in one way or another by the karamojong cattle rustlers or the LRA (the rebel group that abducts children and forces them to fight). When these youth were at the Father Heart Encounter I saw many receive freedom from the shame and fear and bitterness in their hearts. I wanted to check up on them and see whether or not the change was remaining in them or if they had been overwhelmed with life back at home. I also wanted to talk with them about starting up a meeting for bible study and prayer once a month to continue discipling them. To my great delight each I talked with reported a great change in their life. I was only able to go for two days instead of my desired 4 days, but I was able to meet with 12 of the 20 youth. Below I am meeting with S, W and R. We're at S's home. She had been abducted by LRA and raped from there. She has a daughter which she produced as a result who is now three years. She testified that since coming back from the F-H Encounter that she now feels free, she's shared with her friends about this new freedom and what she learned from there and she says her friends have noticed a difference in her.

Next I talked with W. He explained that since coming back from F-H Encounter he has stopped getting drunk on alcohol and also shared with his friends about Jesus and they also stopped drinking. Now instead of drinking they either play football or chat with friends about the word of God. Then R. He says that he used to be rude to people and could quarrel with people, but now he has more forgiveness in his heart and forgives people much easier. Also he used to struggle to get money to survive, but since coming back from F-H Enounter he's been able to get some little money to survive on.
After visiting these three I went on to visit J. She's in school at the secondary school there. She's pictured below with me. Besides just visiting them I was also able to give many of them a picture that I took of them from Jinja where the F-H Encounter took place. They have so few pictures of themselves, if any, so they loved receiving these. Below we are looking through some of the pictures. J shared that her heart was now free, she feels better and she's even shared at her church about the freedom that comes with forgiving others.

I met with many others, which I won't describe each one, but I kept hearing things like: Respect for family and others have increased, discipline has gotten better, has begun praying about everything, stopped quarreling, and have been meeting together to pray and share the word, feels a new love for Christ, no more bad dreams, freedom from shame and fear, came to know God now cannot do ungodly things. As I talked with each, my heart continued in praise to our great Father who had ministered to these broken hearts. The power of the Holy Spirit at work in these lives. All were excited to have some kind of bible study and prayer group started to continue learning and growing.
This place is called Lotuke Sub-county in Abim district and it is a beautiful place that has suffered much. As I drove and walked around the place I found it hard to believe all the death and destruction that had taken place there. It seems so peaceful and quiet now. Many have moved close together to help protect each other. Below is a picture of one group of houses.

Though there was much change with these children in their hearts, they still have much need in the physical, seeing how poverty often comes married to war and violence. Many of these youth expressed a desire to go back to school, but did not have school fees. Some are the heads of their households and need to help provide for their family, but are struggling to do so. Some are being taken care of by grandmothers who are very old and sickly. Please pray for these youth for continued provision in the spiritual and physical. Please pray that I would have wisdom as to how to help meet some physical needs as well as spiritual. Thank you for your continued partnership in prayer. You have helped to set captives free. Praise the Lord with me for His continued grace and power displayed so evidently in the lives of these youth!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

grace for each day

The power has been out since yesterday, I was supposed to teach Lydia this morning, but she was sick. Betty was at my door by 7:45am wanting to wash her clothes from our tap. We first had to take Jennifer to the bus park. Shortly after returning… a young woman about 17years old shows up at our gate with her 2 year old son. At least I thought he was a boy until I saw he was wearing a cute frilly dress (he was strapped on to her back until then). Turns out he is indeed a boy, just doesn’t have clothes that are “gender appropriate.” Neither have shoes and they don’t speak ateso. They’re from southern sudan, well they’re trying to get back there. Apparently the girl worked in mbale for about 1.5years for a mslm lady who never paid her and abused her. The lady wouldn’t even give her transport money back home. So I’m still not sure who told her she should come to my gate, but there she was.

All she owned in one diaper bag. Gave her some tea and food and she wanted to wash her clothes too and bathe the baby and herself, so gave her some soap and water. She’s a Christian, but didn’t have a bible says she can read, so gave her a bible and a children’s bible. We also have a few shoes left over from Remembrance church’s vbs donation, so we were able to give them shoes also. And even got an outfit from Luka (MK) for little Joseph. She was so grateful for all things.

Brought her to the bus park and gave her money for transport. This is all before lunch. Power came back sometime in there so I could get the email out that I needed to. Brought Sarah her school uniform and some other things for Jennifer since she had to go to Kenya. Then had to go back to the house to clean it a bit b/c we (betty’s still with me) were having Nuru over for lunch (my mslm friend from market) along with her children. Then we quickly went to pick her up brought her to the house and prepared lunch and then ate. Made the mistake of using pans and plates that have touched pork in the past, so she was a bit troubled by that, and so was I, but she said she forgave me, I try not to beat myself up over how I could ruin a relationship just like that. Lord help me. Thank you that you can even use my mistakes for Your glory. After lunch took nuru home. Stopped by a boarding school to visit Dina, who I am sponsoring to go to school. She seems to be doing well. Enjoys geography, shared some interesting things about the choir members who have demons or worship the devil, and how they call homosexual activity in the dorms “bonding”. Hmmm, what an innocent name. anyway, so we (abella’s with me now) went back home, to find about 10 kids waiting outside the gate. They want to play. We decided on a movie, after much debate we decided on the Disney’s Joseph movie. Made some kool-aid. I was able to make some phone calls and wash my hair while they watch the movie. Movie finished, they went home. Bathed. The guard’s step-daughter shows up to turn on the gate lights and inform me the guard’s is going to be delayed. Learned yet another way to say thank you. Afowyo. Add that to Wanyala, Webale, Apowyo, Iyalama. All in one country. Yeah, so then began gathering the chickens to put them in the hen house, still can’t find my sweet village hen called gwen. Then began working on my newsletter. Internet not working…Finished newsletter, internet working emailed for proofreading, checking facebook, internet not working again. Approaching 10pm. Trying internet one more time. If not this will have to post tomorrow…nope, no internet…this will have to wait. Now it is morning again, internet net working, but power is back off, and so it begins again. Praise the Lord for His grace is sufficient. Yesterday morning I had prayed that my house would be a place of refuge and for the pouring out of Jesus’ love. God Answered that prayer. I also asked for the grace I needed for the day. He answered that one too. Praise the Lord who hears our cries and answers them.


Sunday, February 20, 2011

the experience of bible study

Too often I'm failing to write in this blog because I am wearied by the thought of how to explain the experiences that I go through in a way that i feel is sufficient to really allow the reader to completely share in the experience with me. And things happen in experiences here it seems. I don't just go to do bible study in the village at 2pm and come back at 5pm having read, shared, prayed, sang. no. I'm finding it's always an experience. I don't want to be wearied any longer by this daunting task of transforming experiences into written word. So i'm going to try to share about the experience of bible study yesterday. I'm now not going to fear writing for too long or too short, i'm just go to write, so be prepared. On saturday morning I had bible study with betty and abella and a Lydia (the missionary kid that I teach twice a week). After we finished i was left with a few hours still before having to leave for the other bible study i help lead in Kamuda. Though it is only about 13km away it is definitely village. I thought I would use the few hours before hand to prepare what I might share if the guy who was supposed to share didn't show up. I began preparing. We'd been studying out of John each week and so i was looking through John and considered sharing about when they wanted to stone the woman caught in adultery. I've heard so many sermons on this, I thought, well this will be easy and so i began in my mind preparing what I might share. I wasn't feeling completely sure about it, but felt good enough and thus moved on to reading a book. The book is called The Path of Loneliness by Elisabeth Elliot. Anyway, I would periodically stop reading and consider what was being shared in that book. My mind also wanted to meditate on a portion of scripture that the Lord had brought to my mind in the morning while i was out for a bike ride, "The enemy is His footstool" All that to say...I was in a process of listening to the Lord and attempting to learn from Him, more about Him. I continued reading from the book where Ms. Elliot quoted from Isaiah 43:1-5. I wanted to read it from my version and found that I was encouraged by it, especially the part where God says, "You are precious to me, honored, and I love you." What powerful, transforming words, to know that the God of the entire universe, thinks I'm precious and loves me so much. As I was processing those words from my loving Father, I began to picture the faces of the young men and women that God had thus far had me sharing His word with. I could see so much the pain in their eyes and how He longed for them to know how He loved them, and that no matter what they were going through they are precious to Him and He is with them. With that in the back of my mind it was time to go to bible study. I left at almost 2pm and reached around 2:15pm. On my way I found one of the youth walking, she's called Mary and she's usually the first one there, so I knew I was in for a wait when even she hadn't arrived yet. Mary and I reached the Sub-county headquarters, which is where we meet. We hadn't had bible study in two weeks and it was the day after elections so we weren't sure how many would actually come. Of the group I think Mary's english is not the best and my kumam is limited to greetings pretty much and Berna was not able to come and translate. ok, let me continue on here. So we waited until about 3:30 and only one other person had come. We decided to go look for another girl called Dina. I've put her into boarding school b/c of the situation at home, but she was home for the elections and had told me she would meet me at bible study. On the way to Dina's we stopped by Paul's house (he's the one supposed to lead today). He was out grazing his animals and said he was coming when he finished. We went on to Dina's and found she had gone to church. we went to her church and found she had left for bible study. we headed back to bible study, passed by paul's house and paul's wife said dina had come by and was headed back to her house to find us. Somehow we had passed each other twice on the way. So we quickly headed back toward her house and found her on the way this time. Then she went home packed her things (she was going to head back into to town with me b/c her grandfather was quarreling with her and there were too many temptations around, she said even over holidays she no longer wanted to go home), so we waited for her. While we were waiting Mary said that her heart was hurting because she loved the word of God and wanted to have bible study...but where were the people...and now it's becoming late and we have no time...and then Dina came and we drove back to the bible study, stopping by paul's to pick him up. When we reached we found Grace and Maggie waiting for us. We were now 7. Seems like a good number. Paul had not had time to prepare anything to share with the youth and I felt compelled to share what I had studied earlier that day from Isaiah. But before we could start bible study we met a woman who was staying at that clinic that was just there nearby. She was Paul's cousin and we felt we should pray for her. We went in her room and we sang a worship song and then prayed for her. I know the Lord touched her heart even in that short time as tears began falling softly from her eyes. I pray the Lord continues to draw her to Himself. Then it was finally time to begin bible study. Just as we were about to start, it was now about 4:45pm Brenda arrived. After reading Isaiah 43:1-5 I was able to go around to each of these young woman, and look them in the eyes and tell them how precious they are to God and how much He loves them. As I was going around the group Beatrice arrived. After that we had anyone share about anything difficult that they were going through that we could pray with them about. Dina shared about her struggle at home, quarreling with her grandfather, who had even told her to excavate her dead mother and have sex with her (or something along those lines, it may have changed a bit in translation). Anyway she shared how they didn't want her in school and were wanting her to get married (so they could get cows for her). After she shared Mary volunteered to pray for her, but first encouraged her to harbor no bitterness in her heart toward them and forgive them for mistreating her. The others shared also, Maggie with temptation with school (like dropping out to get married) and Beatrice with her parents always quarreling and her dad not wanting her to continue school so he can sell ( i mean marry) her off. It breaks my heart that so many of these beautiful young ladies are reduced to a few cows in their parents eyes. Too many fail to reach secondary school because they are "married off" for a few cows. We prayed for each after they shared and it was a good time of encouraging and prayer. Sarah recommitted her life to Christ. And Richard joined us just as we were finishing. I bought soda and crackers for the now 10 people, because, wow it was hot and we were tired. Afterwards Dina said she wanted to stay at her home until monday rather than coming home with me now. I think the Lord did a work in her heart, as she appeared to want to stay and resolve the conflict with her grandfather, rather than leaving in bitterness and unforgiveness. So...I took dina home, then Sarah, then Paul, where it was insisted that I stay and have supper, as it was now around 7:30pm. So Mary and I stayed, had some supper, and then around 9pm continued on our way. I dropped Mary, where I had to stop and greet her family for a few minutes, and then finally head for home around 9:30pm. So much for just going to bible study from 2pm-5pm. But I wouldn't have had it any other way. I don't know if I've adequately described the day in it's entirety, but I hope you at least get the idea.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

waiting for friday

Most people in america are always waiting for friday, for the freedom of the weekend. This week we're waiting for friday also in uganda. We're too hoping for freedom, but not so sure it will come. I returned on tuesday to Soroti after two weeks of being in Jinja and Kampala. I had an amazing time with two different groups of former child soldiers over the two weekends, learning about God's Father heart for them. I'm still processing these weekends, but hope to update on them in my next newsletter. On the drive back from Jinja to Soroti (it's about 3.5hrs drive) every thing seemed so peaceful and calm. Presidential Elections are on friday and most people are concerned about what will happen. I thought there would be more unrest up to this point for some reason, but things have been calm. I asked my friend at the market about it and she said we're just waiting for Friday. My 12 year old friend Abella says that they will not go to school on friday because the school headmaster said he didn't know what he would do if war broke out and all the children were at school. seems like a legit reason to stay home for the day. It seems no one wants war, and yet so many are fearing it will come. How can war come within a country when no one wants it? Haven't the people here seen enough of what war can and has done to their country, their people? I wondering just how fast it could turn from calm and peaceful to anger and chaos? I find myself now also just waiting for Friday. What will happen? Only the Lord knows, and I'm thankful He is my Keeper. So as you wait for friday in america or europe or where ever, please be praying for Uganda. We want friday to come and freedom and peace to follow.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Represent

"I have chosen to live as if every conversation I have, as if everything I do either blesses or defiles someone else." I'm reading a book called Experiencing Father's Embrace by Jack Frost and was challenged by that statement this evening. Everyday my path crosses with so many different people, sometimes just passing by, sometimes they want something from me, or I want something from them, but no matter how formal or informal, how casual or intimate the conversation is I choose to pass on life and love or death and defilement. That seems so harsh to say it that way, death and defilement, and yet when I think about it, it's pretty accurate. My words can cause the death of someone's hopes, or can mar someone's view of God. If someone come up to me for the tenth time asking for school fees, even if I know it's not my place to give the money for fees for this particular person, there is a way in sharing that information with the person that either blesses or defiles, either builds up or tears down. Jack goes on later to make the statement, "Every misrepresentation of God's love to another individual is an area of sin and darkness in your life." Have I perfectly represented God's love today to everyone I met? No. Thank God for His grace and that He forgives. But I know by His Spirit He can continue to mold me and refine me and pour His love through me in such a way that I represent His love better and better every day. Am I willing to go through that refining? Yes. I desire Truth in my inmost being. Will it be easy? No. But I fix my eyes on Jesus the Author and Perfecter of my faith. The love of God has transformed my life, and I want to continually pass that love and life on. Father God, help me to walk by Your Spirit, that I am able to be an accurate representation of your love to all those that I meet.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Crying out with Ezra

I was reading the book of Ezra over the last week and have been quite impacted by it. Listen to this, "As soon as I heard this, I tore my garment and my cloak and pulled hair from my head and beard and sat appalled. (9:3)" This is Ezra's response to the unfaithfulness of God's people, their deliberate disobedience. and He goes on, "At evening sacrifice I rose from my fasting, with my garment and my cloak torn, and fell upon my knees and spread out my hands to the LORD my God, saying, 'O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift my face to you, my God, for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has mounted up to the heavens. (9:5-6)'" He cries out on behalf of his people. It strikes me that it is not he who was in individual sin, he had not intermarried with the pagans as so many others had, but he still mourned and interceded on behalf of God's people, and even identified himself as guilty along with the rest. He felt a certain connectedness with his fellow believers. It seems these days we've lost some of this as the bride of Christ, especially in the western church. To each is own, and don't try to tell somebody else what to do, let them go their way, and if they're in sin, don't try to come along side them because they might think you are judging them. We've lost being appalled at sin. We forget what it does to our Father's heart. We don't feel called to repent and cry out on behalf of our brothers and sisters who are stuck in sin. I remember a pastor once explaining that if we knew what our sin does to the heart of our Heavenly Father we would say of course gouge out our eye if it causes us to sin, we'd freely cut off our hand if it caused us to sin, if we even understood just a bit of what our sin does to our Father's heart. We know we are all apart of one body in Christ, as much as our american ways drive us toward independence, we are dependent on Christ and on the body of Christ, when one part of the body suffers we all suffer. I want to become more appalled at sin in my own heart and in the bride of the Christ, I want to come and plead before the Lord on behalf of my brothers and sisters. I don't want to continue on saying, ah, that sin is not mine, the sin of abortion, not my problem, the sin of pornography not my problem, the sin of adultery not my problem, they're not my problem if I'm not struggling with them, and yet these and other sins are eating away, slowly destroying the beautiful bride of Christ. I need to be concerned about this, I need to cry out to my God, begging forgiveness on behalf of my brothers and sisters. The Lord knows I'm not perfect, and I am always asking forgiveness for my own sins, but how often am I standing in the gap for the global church? Do I allow myself to become appalled by our sin as a whole, our unfaithfulness as a bride? Do I realize how it effects the heart of God? Lord, teach me, teach us, that it isn't just about ourselves, open up our eyes to see the state of the church as a whole and how we might join with one another and cry out to you Lord, appalled by our sin and begging for you in your mercy, to not forsake us in our slavery to sin, but extend to us your steadfast love!
The most encouraging part I found while reading the book of Ezra was the phrase that he used over and over again, "The hand of Lord my God was on me...the good hand of our God on us, The hand of our God is for good...the hand of our God was on us." Even in our sin, the good hand of the Lord is upon us, longing to draw us back to Himself, awaiting us to come to our senses.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Learning

For some reason the last few weeks, I've at a loss as to what to share. And it's not for a lack of things going on. Maybe things that I used to find strange or funny are becoming more normal. I think I will just share what I've been learning over the last few weeks in some kind of list. Because they don't seem very connected, i'm currently doubting my capabilities to draw them all together in some creative way, so let me just begin.
-I learned when I feel free to open up and share some struggles that I have, or times when I've been trapped in some sin, it tends to bring freedom to whom I share with for them also to share. I like that freedom and transparency.
-I am prideful. Well...I am a work in progress anyway. I am currently doing a bible study with Betty & Abela about three mornings a week. (B&A are both 12yrs old and often find themselves at our house) We are reading through the book of matthew together and a couple weeks ago we read through the beatitudes. The first one, Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven really struck me again. I began to pray that God would grant me this poverty in spirit and increase my knowledge of the desperate situation I am in without Him. And so having forgot that I prayed that I found myself a week later, speaking to myself, something along the lines of, man, why am I so not nice these days, and i need to learn how to be more loving, and I found myself getting frustrated with myself. It's then God reminded me of that prayer and really spoke to my heart, See, my child, see how I am constantly at work in you and how desperately in need of Me you are? And I thanked Him for revealing that to me and for answering my prayer. He really worked on my pride and I'm so grateful He answered that prayer, though of course I was wishing there was a less painful way. =)
-I learned 26 people can fit pretty well into a van made for 15.
-I learned that I can buy 12 Disney movies on one disk for 8,000 shillings (~4$).
-I learned if I really understood the power and potential in fasting, I would fast more and more faithfully.
-I learned that I can bite my tongue in my sleep and wake myself in the process.
-I learned that 72 degrees is cold.
-I learned that I have much more to learn about Mslm ministry.
-I learned it's really hard to plan my next trip home because I want to see everyone across the country, but definitely won't be able to...decisions, decisions.
-I learned today that Berna and I are going to be sharing the word of God at a youth conference in the village on Monday and Tuesday to about 100 youth. Nothing like giving you two days time to prepare...at least it's not day of.
-I learned the more I learn the more I have yet to learn.