Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The New Normal

After 6 years of life in Uganda I have achieved a new normal. Things that I used to be shocked by no longer shock me. Like, now days I can bravely and confidently, well mostly confidently, carry a plastic bag with 60 raw eggs packed in it through the crowded market without breaking even one. I used to be shocked when I would wait 2-3 hours for a meeting to start, and now I may be the one they are waiting for.
I used to be shocked, maybe disgusted is a better word, that people could enjoy popping large fried bugs into their mouth, and they would actually lose precious sleep to harvest said "bugs" late into the early morning hours. Now I love the white ants and I'm also there, alongside my family, catching them late into the night. I can find myself wondering when are they coming back into season, we've taken long without eating them. And no, we don't call them bugs, they are ants, not bugs. Bugs are not food. I used to be shocked that I only had the time and energy to accomplish one task in a day, now I'm shocked if I can manage to get three things done per day.
Now imagine me trying to prepare someone from the states to come for a visit. We have a team coming to visit the first week of August, and it's good we have an experienced team leader who will help prepare the team for their trip. Because by now I can even forget what it is that I should warn them about. I remember when I first came to Soroti, I was visiting a village church with some teammates, after the morning training we went to a local restaurant for lunch. My friend, who had lived in Soroti about 3 years by this point, ordered a dish called eboo, and was so excited about it I decided to get the same. One taste and I wondered...why in the world was she raving about such a "unique" dish, and yet now I cook it at least once a week...I no longer gasp when the power goes out in the middle of cooking, shopping, bathing, or any other somewhat inconvenient time to not be able to see anything. Gone are the days of valuing personal space. I used to wonder, when I was "obviously" in line at the bank, and someone would come and cut right in front of me, with a smile none the less. But now I know that unless my belly is brushing up against the back of the guy in front of me I am obviously not in line.
I don't think I should even go into driving, suffice it to say...no...let me not even try...though the phrase "Every man for himself" comes to mind. Hearing that a man has more than 40 children doesn't shock me nearly as much as it once would. Then there's the chasing after and the killing of your supper. The amount of people you can fit into or onto a vehicle. Think of your car. Most cars fit 5 people. Now, if a motorcycle here can carry 5 people or 8... what are the possibilities for a car, a van, or a truck? Endless.

I guess life is like that, what we get used to becomes the new normal. It's funny how weird, or disgusting, something can seem when we're not familiar with it, but with a little bit of time, and perhaps some effort, we don't even think twice about it. The ants in the bread, ants in the water, ants on my toothbrush and in my cupboard, wait, what ants?  I guess there is both positive and negative side affects of the new normal. On the positive side I can now live in this country very comfortably, and try to convince others from outside that they shouldn't be so scared of this place. Especially now days, as it looks more dangerous to live in the states then here...which brings up the negative side of the new normal...as I watch the disintegration of the country where I was born I wonder about what has happened. Isn't there some saying about a frog in a boiling pot?

Friday, July 8, 2016

An assortment of random thoughts / updates

The other day we were baby-sitting our niece Ellie as her brother was in the hospital with A-typical pneumonia.  She's all of 3 and half and just generally brings joy to the house. She had gotten dressed on her own and had put her shirt on backwards. I had told her about it once and then we were eating lunch and I noticed she still had it on backwards. I mentioned it again and we laughed. Then I told her that, "You know what Ellie, we can just leave it like that because that is not an important thing. We have to focus on more important things like Jesus and loving people." She agreed. So we left it like that. But the rest of the day I kept finding myself wanting to put it on her right, or I found myself wanting to explain myself to visitors, as to why I didn't bother about the way she was dressed. It made me keenly aware of the fact that I can too easily focus on things that don't really matter. The long of the short of it is it's just a t-shirt and if the kid's happy in it and not doing any harm to herself or others then it doesn't need to bother me either. I know there's some spiritual application here, but just having trouble putting it into words. Let's just focus on loving Jesus and receiving His love and giving that love to others. The rest...well...somehow it works it's self out...wait, i think there's a verse that says something about that....oh yeah,  "Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." (Mat 6:31-32) So this is no new revelation, but I'm going to keep trying to put it in to practice more and more in my life.

Well...on a side note, we are enjoying Sarah as part of our family. It's hard to believe she joined us already more than 7 months ago. We still don't have her birth certificate, but we decided she was born on May 7, 2002. So at least now she has a birthday, which we celebrated since the last time we wrote. Without going into too much detail it has been a difficult transition for all of us, but over the past few weeks we could see some improvement in her behaviors and then a couple weeks ago she told us that she wanted to confess Jesus as Lord of her life and she is going to be baptized this Sunday at church. When I was talking with her she said she could really notice a difference in her life since confessing Christ. We are proud of her.
She has not had an easy time growing up, being passed around from relative to relative looking for her place. I (Beckie) have been homeschooling her for the past few months, and even though she is only at around a 2nd grade reading/math level, she is a determined, dedicated student and keeps improving. She is now able to read pretty well, she reads me the Jesus Story Book Bible every class, and though I help her with many words, she can now finish a whole story by herself where as before we would have to take turns because it would take her so long and she would get frustrated. Please keep praying with us for her. She's really a gifted singer and loves praise and worship, if we were in the states we could more easily see that talent developed, but not sure how to go about it here. Also we need wisdom as parents. Suddenly having a teenage girl is not the simplest thing we've ever done, but when we see the way God is transforming her before our eyes, it is so worth it.

We had two classes since I wrote last, Caring for God's People and Christian Stewardship. Both of them went on well. We had a good turn up for each and are looking forward to our next class this month, Teaching the Christian Faith. This past class when were meeting in our small groups we heard many testimonies of how God has answered our prayers in the lives of the students.
Two in my small group had us praying for them that they become debt free, and when they came back the next month, one had been able to pay off the debt and the other one finally got a job, so he was excited because soon he would be able to pay off his debt as well. There were some in Ruudy's group who also reported back on answers to prayers. It's so encouraging to hear back from the students during that small group time. During that small group time they also report on how the implementation of their action plans went.
For action plans for Caring for God's people, many people said they would go and visit such and such a person, maybe someone who they know has stopped coming to church, or a widow, or someone who has been sick for a while. It was powerful to hear back on how the visitations went. Some people received Christ, others are now coming back to the church, generally the people visited were encouraged, and thus our students were also encouraged.

Ruudy has not been feeling well for the last couple of weeks, feeling cold in the middle of the day, and the joints aching throughout. Please pray for him complete healing, and also wisdom for the doctor as he tries to figure out what the issue is. We have treated for a couple things just to be on the safe side, but so far haven't seen much, if any, improvement. It's frustrating for him to feel yucky and not know why.

We are excited that we have a small group from Kalamazoo coming at the end of this month. We don't get visitors from out too often so we certainly are looking forward to it. Please pray for them as they travel and spend time at the orphanage in Jijna and with the sponsored kids and purity clubs in Soroti. Some of them will be their first time to Africa.

Well if you made it to the end of this one, congrats to yourself, you survived my scattered thoughts. I wanted to make this update so perfect, you know, the kind that people actually respond to and you realize people actually do read these things, but then my mind couldn't focus very well and was running away with a number of thoughts and I had to just put them down as they come. And since I couldn't risk doing it later because then it might not get done at all... anyway, Such is life here most of the time, always running from one thing to the next, being pulled in so many different directions, and trying to remember to do everything that we need to do before being distracted by the next thing.
Oh and to add to that, we took some Welcome Home visitors on a boat ride the other day and saw a cool bird,

I guess it's called a Ross's Turaco. When it was flying it was even cooler, as it's wings have red on the bottom side. I was too in awe watching it fly that I even failed to use the camera to try to get a shot of it. We also saw a hammerkop, eastern grey plantain eater, ring necked dove, hadada ibis, pigmy kingfisher, woodland kingfisher, malakite kingfisher, pied kingfisher, night heron, great cormorant, african data, long tailed cormorant, sacred ibis, cattle egret, open billed stork, african fish eagle along with some monkeys and a few monitor lizards, it was a pretty good hour and a half.
This concludes this unpolished update. Interesting.