30 July 2011

chruch service in the village
from the storm the other night

How do you drink a glass of water for Gods Glory?
Anything you glorify above God becomes and Idol.
We naturally exalt ourselves above God.
Glory needs to be revealed and it flows out in creation.
Stereotyping only separate’s people from what God has called us to be,
You are robbing them of who God made them to be.
Humility is the path to oneness.
The foundation of unity is knowing the Father & Son in complete love, trust, submission, yielding, joy, & TRUTH.
What are you a vessel of?
How does God’s glory impact our lives?
God’s glory cant be diminished.
Pursue Christ and the fruit will be unity.
We are called to the ministry of reconciliation, 2Cor 5:18
Repentance and self-defense cant co-exist.
What you fear will control you and what ever controls you will be your god.
If we suppress truth then we hinder our appetite of Christ.
Lets not be content to keep a few hidden Idols, convinced they are not big deal.
Any freedom in a society depends on how much truth is embraced.
You can’t have faith and fear at the same time.
A belief is very powerful and can impact how we live.

We were able to harvest maize with the students and family groups this week. We had a lot of fun. Its not the same as having combines but many hands make light work. The boys found more chameleon’s and even a tortoise. They seem to be doing well with all the creatures they find. Even the trees demand climbing and exploring.


23 July 2011

Truth & Slashing

We have just completed our 3rd week at the Institute. Our morning sessions are intense as we dig deep into why we are the way we are, why we think the way we think, what are fears are and what lies have we believed to cause those fears…all the while coming back to the Bible to see what God says about all these things. What is TRUTH. It’s amazing to take the time to think and examine and realize that I really do have a lot of fears and I really have believed a lot of lies, or half truths, which are even more dangerous than lies. And I really do think I am right! It’s been difficult to see myself for who I really am in the light of God. How complacent I have become. I can see clearly what I have used in my life to distract me from pain and difficult situations. At the same time there is hope because of God. I was encouraged to read in Hosea 2:14, 19 “Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her…I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion.” This was a reminder that God is gentle and He longs for my heart. He desires more for me than I desire for myself even. My head and heart are full and I am still sorting, but it is good and it is necessary.

On a lighter note, we have been placed in one of the seven family groups to joint them in their activities. Our family group is the Jonathan family and they have 7 girls and around 15 boys. We joined them this morning to work in the garden with the older kids, ages around 8 and up. We were clearing the tall grass for the cows because they are preparing the field to plow. So we used a tool called a “slasher” because we slash the grass away with it. I love how Ugandans think! It makes total sense to call it a slasher! I am horrible at slashing! There were little girls about 9-14 who were slashing circles around me. They make it look so easy. They hold the tool with both hands and swing it back and forth at the base of the grass and slash it away. I had to hold it like a golf club and swing at it. Of course they were gracious and didn’t laugh at me…they even thanked me for helping. I had to laugh inside at that one, but at least I tried! Taylor was a natural “slasher”! He did a great job. Trevor gave it some effort and Tobyn whined and had a poor attitude. We are still working on him and it all seems worse in the light of the other Ugandan children who are quiet and obey and work with happy hearts. We are ALL learning a lot here! I really enjoyed our time with the kids today and I think our working together broke the ice to have more of a relationship.

This same family will be going to another village about 5 kilometers away from New Hope to share music at a church. I look forward to another different church experience tomorrow and getting to know the kids even better. I think it will be neat to see them in action and may help us form friendships even faster. At the same time, we are seeing the orphaned heart in action. One little boy, who has befriended Taylor, has a habit of forming new friendships in order to steal from them. The family parents talked to us and we are honoring them and keeping the boys from spending time alone together. It is sad, but he needs God to work in his heart and heal that wounded part of him, or he will keep isolating himself from others. Another young girl is very quiet and withdrawn and I wonder what her story is. What kind of rejection and abuse has she experienced in her young life? What does she believe about God? I hope she will allow me into her life a bit so she doesn’t have to carry her burdens alone. God knows her story and He loves her more deeply than any person could. There is so much hope in Christ.

Last weekend we visited the local market, about 5 minutes up the road by car. We met a young man who works here at New Hope and we had the privilege of meeting his grandmother. We saw his home; really just a concrete bedroom and he took us to meet his grandma who also lived in a concrete bedroom. They do their cooking outside over charcoal and live such simple lives. I am struck over and over by their joy. His grandma was so pleased to meet us and welcomed us warmly. She shook our hands over and over and lingered as she held our hands. Oh how I wish I could have understood her, spent the afternoon just learning what her life has been like. She had a twinkle to her eyes even though her dress was torn and her body was exposed. She was a dear woman.

Also walking around in the same market was a little girl around Trevor’s age. I will never get this image out of my mind. On her back, riding piggyback and sound asleep, was a little one about 1 year old. This little girl was taking care of her and all she had on was a shirt. The older sister (if they were even related) held her bare bottom and they were just walking along the dirt road on a Saturday afternoon. The market is in full swing on a Saturday afternoon and there are people everywhere. It’s just a shock to see children with so little, really not aware that they have so little, just doing what they do…taking care of each other. It was a precious sight in a way. I hope they were walking home to parents who love them.

11 July 2011

Food, Bugs and Heart

We have seen many things so far in Uganda. The power has been on longer than 24 hours now. Its a new record. There is a real difference in the way cultures form and societies develop. Here in Uganda, I have shaken more hands so far than I have all last year. It’s the way to greet one another.
We have picked coffee beans, dried them and soon we will roast our first coffee. It’s not a fast process by the way. Peanuts are really ground nuts and thus called by their proper name here. We buy them unroasted and soft, put them on low heat for a while and add some saltwater. Soon they become firm and are great eating. Matoke is cooked banana. Not the fruit banana but food banana. It’s different. Posho is maze (corn) dried and turned to flower. Just add water and posho! The fruit is first class, with pineapple growing in the back yard, mango trees everywhere, and even a few lime trees we are set. The gorilla fingers (short fruit bananas) have great flavor.
The bugs are great here. Many caterpillars with stinging hair that will ruin your week. Spiders, millipedes, geckoes, roaches, and just weird bugs. Mostly they come out at night. Not much to see during the day except listen to the cicada bugs, which are loud and annoying
So how does our life compare to those of others. There is joy, peace, heartache, pain, sorrow, and many things that make us human. As part of our class we have been sharing our stories, both good and bad. I have read about the pain and suffering in Africa for some time but to hear it first hand is in a class of its own. There are people from Kumi in northern Uganda who are from the Teso tribe and one lady shared with us how her father was taken from her in the war. When they found him he was dead and they had to carry him to the grave in pieces. She remembers carrying his arm. But God is good. We are grateful for her testimony and remember Revelation 12:11 “they overcame him by the blood of the lamb and by the word of their testimony”
It’s not all hard stories to hear, there’s great joy in the lives of the Ugandan people. They kids are laughing most of the time. We are still trying to learn the dialect and understand the English spoken to us in such a thick African accent. I love it but it’s also frustrating not being able to understand. One of Taylor’s good buddies is named Tom for short. I wouldn’t know where to start trying to spell his full name. Its been almost two weeks, which isn’t long at all, but it feels like its been long. We are making progress and feeling more at home. We get to hang out with our Ugandan family group this week and get to know the kids there. Out house it right up the hill from the Jonathan family group that we get to work with.

03 July 2011

I am used

What a full day we experienced on our first Sunday in Uganda. Before church even started we got to play a small part in a marriage proposal for another student at the Institute. They believe in courtship here and there is no flirting or “dating” among the young men and women. There is a big responsibility to model that to the younger ones, so this couple was following tradition and setting a good example. It would have been considered inappropriate for this couple to spend a lot of time together if they people here did not understand they were planning on getting married. So he proposed to her outside our home yesterday morning and Troy took their engagement pictures. Then it was announced during church and there was a lot of celebrating. It was so fun to witness how that happens here.

Church itself was 4 hours long. We were told that was one of the longest services ever here at New Hope. I guess if we survived this one, it should be smooth sailing from here on out! It was long, but there were so many neat aspects to this service. It was a morning of celebrating family. That was emphasized over and over. There was a young man who graduated and I felt so grateful to witness the love, honor and responsibility spoken to him. From what I could understand through the accents, he was the first boy taken into one of the families here at New Hope. His mother was a Christian and loved the Lord, but died of a sickness when he was young. He was the first orphaned child placed into this family and they were so proud of him. They encouraged him for his hard work, his love for Jesus, his integrity and honored him for becoming who they expected and hoped for him to become. They passed on the responsibility for him to continue to live his life in a way that honors the Lord and sets an example for those younger. They honored his mother and spoke of her character and her desires for her son and how he has fulfilled those desires. It was an emotional thing for me to witness. He was launched into manhood in a very powerful way. I loved it and felt privileged to witness this.

There was another testimony of a man who came here many years ago. He shared how his parents split up and they both wanted to take him back to their clans and he was taken to his father’s clan by force. He spoke of traditions and evil ceremonies that were done to him. witchcraft he had been a part of. He has experienced a lot of pain in his life. He shared how he was very resistant to the gospel when he came to New Hope. He would hear about Jesus and His love and believe this could not be true. It took a long time for his heart to soften and he received Jesus as His Savior and he has been set free. He no longer walks in darkness and he is truly free in Christ…and there was a lot to be free from. His desire is to speak of Jesus boldly to his family and clan so they can be set free as well. It was powerful to hear and see the truth and joy in his life despite the pain of his childhood.

I know I haven’t been here long, but I find myself already frustrated with the cultural barriers. I know it will just take time, but I want to walk up to a young woman and know what questions are appropriate to ask and be able to understand through her accent exactly what she is communicating to me. I did meet one woman and I hope to be able to spend more time with her. Her name is Nabatanzi Afuah and I have written her name down and spoken it over and over in my head so I won’t forget it! She was bubble and happy and outgoing and I think she may be in the Institute with me. I hope so! There is another young woman named Consequence who will be in the classes with us. She has been cooking for us and has a daughter named Gertrude who has a smile to light up a room and bright happy eyes. There is something very endearing about her and I can’t wait to give her a hug at breakfast! ☺ Consequence is a hardworking woman and something she said to me yesterday has been rolling around in my head since. She made us breakfast at the Institute and then helped prepare lunch for about 300 following the church service. There was another ceremony after that and then she made us dinner. When I was saying goodnight to her last night, I asker her if she was exhausted. I didn’t understand her reply…it wasn’t a simple yes. So I asked her again if she was tired. This time I understood her. She answered me, “I AM USED.” I am used. That has been running through my mind and my heart ever since. I am used. I like that. I am not tired, but I am used by God and for God. I want to be used. I guess if I am not used, something is wrong. So, I’ll leave you with that thought and question as well. Are you used?

01 July 2011

Our first few days in Uganda have been wonderful! Trying to catch up on sleep and adjusting to the time change really hasn’t been as difficult as I imagined it would be. The boys seem to have adjusted well and we only occasionally hear the request to go home to Kenny Lake. Taylor drank some unfiltered water and we are keeping the watch out for symptoms of giardia. That scared him enough to want to come home! And the unwelcome frog in our home that may be poisonous…that scared him enough to want to come home! All in all, I don’t feel fearful of the snakes and bugs, which has been a relief. I’m not looking over my shoulder or at my feet as though something were waiting to attack me. I really don’t feel fearful at all…even after seeing a dead mamba hanging on a bush near our home. We are in God’s hand and this is His plan for us. What a relief! My heart is overwhelmed by the kindness of the Ugandan culture. Nobody is a stranger and people are more important than the task at hand, so everyone stops to welcome and greet. I don’t know how many times I have been welcomed to Uganda in the past few days. I really do feel welcome here. It sounds like there will be a few cultures represented at the Institute we are attending, and for the first time in many sessions, it is predominately male. There are a few coming from Northern Uganda, from I tribe I can’t remember and most likely couldn’t spell if I could! I think this is going to be a very rich experience for us and I trust God will meet us right where we are at. I know I will be stretched and uncomfortable at times, but I’ll just have to be ok with that. I actually look forward to that in some ways because I have been comfortable for far too long. My heart is open and my expectations are only that God will show up and teach what we need to learn here.

I feel like a kids just taking in all the sights and sounds of a new place. Every flower, bug, fruit, and ways of doing things…it’s all so unfamiliar and I’m excited to learn. I cut mangoes with a neighbor and tasted the best fruit of my life. No wait, maybe that was the pineapple we bought at the market coming out here! It’s so fun to experience all these new things, simple things. Our power has been off far more than it’s been on and the bathing water is colder than I thought it would be…but that’s ok. We have to haul our drinking water and filter it before we can use it, but we were hauling our drinking water in Kenny Lake too, so no big deal! The heat is a welcomed change and all the new sounds are intriguing to me. Last night we got to see lightning and in the middle of the night the thunder was booming and the skies opened up and rain pounded the tin roof of our home. I can’t believe the boys slept through that! It was intense and I know Trevor would have been afraid.

That’s the report for now. I hope you get a sense of what we are experiencing here. We are all well and thankful you are praying.

We made it to Uganda with little trouble, and the kids did great. I almost had to leave Sarah in the Entebbe airport baggage pickup after I took one load outside. They were not going to let me in after the just told me it would be ok to take some bags out. I guess it was my turn to get the runaround.
New Hope is great and the people, culture and atmosphere are wonderful. It’s been a few days and I finally have some power to upload some pictures and make a blog entry. We are still getting settled and enjoying new friendships. The boys have been playing hard the last few days. They even played in their first futbal game today (soccer). NHICF starts on Tuesday and until then we are just going to be settling in. The boys are homesick a bit for Alaska. They don’t like all the poisonous things about, like the dead green mamba hanging outside behind the house, or the little frog sitting in the windowsill. I think it’s poisonous as well. We look forward to all God has planned for this few months. We are still working on a better internet connection and getting used to the cold showers, but all is well in Uganda. Did I mention there is pinapple growing in our garden.