Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 In Review

So I came to the conclusion, what kind of blogger would I be if I didn't write an introspective post on the previous year as a new one is peeking around the corner. Trying to think of this past year is absolutely mind blowing just thinking of how I was doing last year compared to this one, but I'm going to do my best.

First off, this is absolutely insane to think that it's been ten years since the beginning of this millennium. I won't lie, I may or may not be freaking out about how I was a freshmen in high school ten years ago and it's just amazing to think of all that's happened in these past ten years. Graduating high school, college, and moving to Africa are just few things that have taken place. To God be all the glory for all that He's taught me and the things He has brought me through over the years.

This year began with me being at a very weird place, I was still somewhat upset with God for calling me away with all of my friends and family to live in the heart of Africa. After God did some work on my heart, which honestly started as the year began, I began to get more into the flow of life and ministry. I finished the School of Ministry which I can't even begin to describe how awesome it was how God worked out for me to go to the school there and just all the things that God taught me through the school and the bonds that were formed. We have had teams come through where I was able to learn so much about the effectiveness teams could have. Learning the ropes of full on ministry after the school was over and really just finding my niche was a little interesting but God just brought things together and everything has fallen into place. God has just done some absolutely awesome things, and I'm just so stoked that He has allowed me to have some small part in it. I was listening to a teaching the other day and one of the illustrations that was used really put it perfectly: imagine someone goes in for a heart transplant and the surgery was a success and the family goes in and thanks the scalpel instead of the surgeon. I'm a scalpel, plain and simple, and I would be absolutely nothing if it weren't for Him. It truly has been another insane year of breaking and pruning, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. Now I'm looking forward to a new year of seeing what else God has in store, I know it will have it's ups and downs, but I just am so glad I serve a God who is always faithful and will never leave me nor forsake me.

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!!!!!!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Friendship

One of the greatest quotes I have heard on friendship is "A friend is the one who comes in when the whole world has gone out." I have never realized the truth of that statement more so than what I have learned in visiting the States. I have been blessed by having such awesome people to call my "friends" that fit this definition to a t. It's funny the things in our life that cause us to realize who our true friends are, and being here for only a short time, I get to kind of take stalk in the people who God has placed in my life and really realize and be thankful for those who have been there with me through all these past two years. For all of you who have kept up with me, e-mailed me, facebooked, skyped, or texted me, and for those of you who even make the trek down to the airport to welcome me home, I just have to tell you THANK YOU. If I forget to tell you to your face, God has used you in some amazing ways in my life and truly you are a very vital part of the work that He is doing in Africa by just encouraging me and just being a friend.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Chritmas time is here

Right now I'm sitting on the couch in my PJ's hanging out with my family. Our Christmases are filled with tradition, between that and how amazing my family is, I'm definitely torn between two worlds. I'm so blessed to have the family that I have, I love how on Christmas Eve my mom and I go on wrapping marathons staying up way later than anyone ever should, I love how my brothers and I all crowd onto one bed to watch the Grinch until our parents give us the go ahead to come out into the living room, I love that our "big" present is always hidden and our dad types out clues to go and find it. All of these things are what make up many of my Christmas memories that I will always cherish. The hard thing is that I have another family that is 8,000 miles away. I truly do feel like I live two lives, the one here in the States and the one in Uganda. I love each place and I really wish I could just have half of me in Uganda and half of me stay here in the States. Already, I'm thinking about next Christmas and how I won't be around to do the things we have been with my family, but I also look forward to the Christmas performances, parties, and the how low key Christmas is going to be. I wish I could put into words just all that I'm feeling and thinking right now. I KNOW without a doubt that I'm called to Uganda, so there's nothing wrong with that, it's just a bitter sweet day for me that's all.

Anyways, to finish this on a less introspective note, I hope you all have an amazing Christmas! I thank God that He sent His son to be born to die 2,000 years ago. It's cliche and so often we even here the phrase "the reason of the season" and we're numb to it, but in the midst of all the madness, expenses, and stress that this season tends to bring, just take a moment to thank God for all that He has done for us by giving us the Ultimate Gift.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The three things we should never forget...

To share with people when we're witnessing or even discipling someone.

It's funny how sometimes the most "unimportant" verses you read can be the ones that when you read them again they hit you the hardest. I am going through Acts in my quiet time and today as I was reading, 24:25 just really hit me of what an awesome outline it is of what we should be sharing with others, but very few ever do. Paul was standing before Felix, a Roman governor, and just sharing his faith and in this verse it says how Paul talked about righteousness, self-control, and the coming judgment. If you go into most churches or turn on the TV, very rarely will you ever find any or all of these three things discussed, but this is what it all comes down to. I mean without these three things, our faith is so small, our walk so weak, and our maturity so hindered. This life is not about us plain and simple, it's not about our happiness or our health, it's about seeking to live righteous lives where we don't merely go to church or read our Bibles, but we live our faith. Our Christianity is not about living one way on Saturday night but then thinking going to church on Sunday is going to make everything ok, we HAVE to practice self-control and not giving into our fleshly desires, but instead seeking Him. And finally, the coming judgment, something people shy away from talking about because they don't want to seem too "preachy", but way too many people are so afraid of talking about it, that by doing so, they're really just holding open the door that is leading to Hell. We will ALL have to stand before Christ at some point, either to receive a crown or to receive judgment, and if you have denied Him your whole life, the later of the two is exactly what you will have to face.

I realize that this is a bit much, and a little heavy for most, but it's the truth. I just wish we could all follow Paul's lead in how he just laid it out there even to a man in authority. He didn't "tone it down", it didn't try to be politically correct, he simply was faithful to fully lay the TRUE Gospel out to a lost man.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Back to the "norm"

One of the cool things of coming back here is how I have been able to kind of fall back into lot of the same things I used to do: living at the church, late night ihop and chick flicks with Mat, and even getting to dive into helping out. Last night we had Renovate and I was able to go there with Mat and just be a part of the set-up/tear-down and it was just cool how they let me be a part of things like that. My Student Ministry guys are just awesome and involving me right away and allowing me to be a part of it again.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A little shout out to my boys

I have seen this certain group of guys grow up from back when they were in middle school to now they are leading ministries here and other places. These guys amaze, humble, and challenge me. They're a few years younger than I am, but they have so much to teach me. I am able to have talks with some of them that I would never be able to have with anyone else and the wisdom that they have is astounding. I know countless "adults" who do not have a fraction of the maturity and passion that these guys do. It just goes to show you that age does not mean everything. I am so thankful that God has placed these guys in my life. I love them so much and I just pray those guys never loose their momentum or passion to serve.

Is this for real?

Talking to other missionaries, they tried to tell me what to kind of expect when going on furlough, but nothing they could say really would have prepared me for what it really has been like so far. These past few days has been times of catching up with old friends and trying to wrap my mind around how nothing has changed while at the same time, everything has. I am so blessed to have people who care about me and it just cracks me up some of the reactions that people have when they see me. One thing that I am experiencing is how God is humbling me and working in my life to kind of put a spotlight on certain things that He might want to deal with. To me, pride is one nasty monster that likes to really grab a hold of me, and the crazy thing is that a lot of the time I don't even realize that it does have a hold on me until it gets hurt. Already, there have been a couple of things that really made me have to check myself where my heart is at because of some things that either people back in Uganda or here have said, or even just in the middle of a conversation realizing that all I've been doing is talking about myself for the past 15 minutes. God is definitely reminding me of the crazy fact of how I'm absolutely nothing and can do absolutely nothing without Him and that I am 100% replaceable. I haven't even been here a week and already it's been an intense time of reflection, I guess the only hard part is the fact that I'm always going and moving and so most of the processing that I do over what is in my mind is done on the go but it will be interesting to see all the lessons that God teaches me over the rest of these two months.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

First day in the States

Well I woke up this morning with a little confusion as to where I was. My dog Scooby came in to wake me up (which on an added note, he is THE best dog in the world). I had some breakfast and then got ready for the day. We went to the Flea Market to buy our Christmas tree, and then my mom and I went to Costco. I was in shock seeing all those things that they had there. I am pretty stoked to be able to now have honeydew, blue berries, strawberries, and grapes! Oh, I also got my phone all set up so the evening also consisted of me getting in touch with people and for the schedule beginning to be filled. Dave and Vivian also came over so that they could drop off their Jeep for me to use while I'm here. God is blowing my mind right now, and it's only the first full day. Oh yeah! I also saw a little patch of snow which pretty much made me stoked out of my mind.


The trip to the States

So I left Jinja at around 2:15 on Friday afternoon with Ryan, Judy, and Malia. Saying goodbye to all the kids and staff members at CC Jinja was so hard! We made our trek to Entebbe, had a little coffee in a posh little coffee shop, and then hung out with some friends who live in Entebbe. We ate some pizza and then they took me to the airport. It again was not a real fun time saying goodbye to those three. I can't believe I won't see all of them for two months. I finally boarded the plane at 12:30 in the morning and took the 9 hour plane ride to London.


Getting to London, I was in absolute shock! Seeing all the stores like Prada and Coach, and they also had Starbucks which I haven't seen in...you guessed it, 15 months.


Then came the next leg of my trip to Dallas. That flight was 10 hours. Getting to Dallas right away, there was a Dunking Donuts, Chile's, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell. It's just absolutely amazing, and I'll be honest I can see how Americans are so overweight ;)



The knots continued to grow bigger and bigger as the final plane trip was about to begin. We boarded the plane and I finally was able to sleep a little bit. I got off of the plane with my legs feeling like Jello and my heart racing. I walked down the hall to where the people wait for incoming passengers and could see my parents and brothers standing there. I jumped into by bothers arms and had an awesome time finally seeing each other. Then, I turned around and there was the rest of my family: bunny, leroy, marcus, jacob, hannah, gina, my grandma, and my grandpa. Going down the escalator, there was a huge group of my friends, and I just couldn't believe it! I can't tell you how thankful I am that God has placed all these people in my life.


We then headed to Chile's and had a sweet time just hanging out, although I feel bad I couldn't spend much one on one time with anyone.


I got home, and my parents brought back to get settled in my room. They opened the door, and it was so beautiful and decorated just for me. We then just hung out and them my momma and I just spent some time hanging out with my momma.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

My oh my!

Right now, I'm writing this blog from a little kiosk in the Heathrow aiprort in London. I can't tell you how in shock I am right now! Everything is so big and fancy, and everyone's so white! I know that sounds terrible, but it's true. Already I miss the simplicity of Uganda where when I went into the bathroom here and the hand dryers were so fancy I would never have been able to figrure them out if it weren't for other people doing it before me. I'm surrounded by people, and escelators, and shops, and I even have a Starbucks in my view right now. This is absolutely insane!!!! Just warning all of you that you will hear me pretty much constantly saying things like 'Woah!!!!' and 'I haven't seen that for 15 months!'

The flight from Jinja to here was about 9 hours, I have a four hour lay over here in London, then the flight from London to Dallas is about 10 hours. I'll have a three hour lay over in Dallas, and then it's on to ABQ!!!! So far everything is going so smoothly, I just pray that it continues to go that way.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Last things

Most people I'll be saying goodbye to, will only be for two months and then I'll see them again, but the prison ladies are another story. When I first started teaching them six months ago, there were about thirteen ladies in the condemned section of the prison, all guilty of mostly murder. Little by little the number has been going down and today there were 9 amazing ladies for me to teach. They were informed about a month ago that they will be transferred to the prison in Kampala in the very near future and therefore, today was most likely the last day for me to ever see them (until we meet again in heaven). They don't allow pictures in the prison, but I would have loved to capture especially this day with them. I spent the morning making chapatis and Julie baked a cake, we also brought a case of sodas and just had ourselves a little party. God answered some serious prayers with how the Officer in Charge actually was really accommodating which was something we were not expecting. After the food, I taught briefly just emphasizing how things change but God's Word never does and therefore they should always look to it and not to people. When the teaching was over, five of the ladies performed some songs and dances, and then they each gave me a gift they had made. I then said a couple of words and had tears streaming from my eyes. I've been so blessed by these ladies and I'm so glad God has brought them into my life. I will never forget their joy even in the midst of being in a Ugandan prison without seeing family or the outside world for potentially the rest of their lives. Please pray that these ladies seek God and that they don't just follow where the money is but truly follow after Him and that they would grow by leaps and bounds as they continue to go through life.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The last weekend

So I've been trying to make the most of the last few days that I'm in Jinja with all the kids, the girls, the prison ladies, and everyone in between. Hmmm...where do I begin?

Well, This weekend we had our Pastor's wives conference which was actually really cool although I typically try to rebel against all things women's ministry just because I don't feel like I'm in that place in my life just yet. Bev asked me to teach and my subject was on the characteristics that make a mature woman of God focusing on the verses from Titus 2 and 1 Peter 3. I have to admit I was really intimidated by the subject considering I was about ten years younger than the youngest person there, but God seemed to use the teaching and I just hope that these ladies were able to draw closer to Him through what they learned. Then I helped lead a small group and got to know some of the ladies a little better, that was awesome! I am so glad I had that unexpected opportunity to minister to a whole new group of people.


Then after the conference we had a fancy fancy for our youth group, kind of congratulating those who had finished their schooling for good and welcoming in the holiday. After a day full of preparations, we had about 90 students show up. We had some messy games (years of youth ministry put into effect there), worship, a great teaching by JB, and then lots of food! It was a cool way to cap off youth group for a couple of months.


On Sunday, I had my last time of giving announcements for the services. During the second service our power went out, which it tends to like to do, and I was able to get the generator started all by myself, and I won't lie I was pretty proud of myself. After service, we went to Irege, one of our staff member's houses, for lunch. He lives on the other side of the lake and he takes a boat to get to our side to work, but we just took the long way and drove for about 30 minutes. Irege is our cook, and he's a really awesome guy. He's shorter than I am, but he's respected by everyone here and in his village. He has 14 kids (that's right 14) and has raised his kids so well! We got there and he welcomed us with TONS of food - seriously anything you could think of that is traditional Ugandan food, he pretty much had for us. He also loaded us up with sodas. He was so cute because he knows I love orange fanta so while everyone else got a coke, he had fantas for me :). After lunch, we went down for a boat ride on the lake, I'm just sorry that my stomach was still recovering from all the food that I really couldn't enjoy it all that much. Then he took us to see his garden which really is bigger than any garden I've ever seen. He's such a business man, he grows his own food, raises chickens, and has a boat that he takes fees for people crossing the lake. He really is an awesome guy, and it was such a privilege to get to see his home.


Now if that wasn't enough for the past couple of days, today I decided it would be a great day to take all the kids who live here on the compound to a place called King Fisher to go swimming. I also made sure to invite Ryan, Judy, and Richard for some extra sets of eyes. We had a blast, and of course they didn't want to go, but it was an awesome kind of last hurrah before I go.




Well, that was weekend in a nutshell. Tomorrow I'm going to embark on making my own chapatis to bring to my last time of being with my ladies in prison. Hopefully it will go well. I just am so bless by having so many people that I hate to say goodbye to. I know that for most of them it will just be for two months, but still I love my Ugandan family and I just thank God that He has brought me here and to serve Him alongside all these amazing people!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Getting ready

So in one week I'll be at the airport getting ready to get on a plane in about three hours. It's been an interesting time for ministry since the schools let out for their holiday and between that and preparing to go, everything has just been a little off. I'm so close to finishing the book of John - we're on ch. 19 now; and with mama Peace, we are in the minor prophets so I'm trying really hard to finish everything and do it well. It's insane saying goodbye to some people already and I just don't think I have words for all the excitement I have yet at the same time wishing I could just have the best of both worlds.

Now, even though I'll be heading out soon, that doesn't mean things slow down and today we had the first day of our first pastor's wives conference which I had the privilege to teach at and it was about being a mature woman of God - talk about a humbling topic. Tomorrow we're going to have what we call a fancy fancy which is basically just a big party with food, games, and a Bible study. This next week will hold some tying up loose ends and just general preparations for the trip. I just can't believe it's almost here.

Friday, November 27, 2009

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!


Well yesterday I was able to celebrate my second Thanksgiving here in Uganda. It's funny to think of the person I was last year compared to who I am now. I just shake my head in disbelief thinking of all God has taught me over this past year. Jinja has a pretty strong missionary population and so we celebrated by coming together with about 30 other missionaries at a breathtaking place overlooking the Nile, I was speechless when we walked down and I saw the view (and you know that doesn't happen very often). I hope you all had an amazing Thanksgiving as I know many of you have a year of big changes and some of you also went through some big trials. No matter what has happened, I hope you are able to rejoice through it all knowing that in a world that seems to be full of chaos we have a God who has it all under control and who loves us enough to come to this earth for the sole purpose of living to die on that cross so we can come to Him and stand before Him and bask in His glory.

Monday, November 16, 2009

My first Ugandan funeral


Today I had one of the many first I've been having these past couple of weeks here in Uganda, this time it was to go to a funeral and burial. One of our church members, Agnes, who has been with the church since the begging had a son who passed away. This woman is basically like the church grandmother and even is the one holding the babies a lot times when they are dedicated and she's one of the leaders of our hospital ministry. Because she's so heavily a part of the church, we felt it only right to have a strong presence at the funeral even though it was going to be way back in her village. We headed out at about 1 with three cars full of our staff and other church members who wanted to go to support Agnes and we got to Agnes' house and it's just amazing the different ways different cultures handle mourning. In America, it's a very solemn occasion full of hushed voices, here the women once they get close to the house of the key relative (i.e. mother) they put their hands on their head and start wailing as loud as they can (as Jess told me, think Jewish and you can kind of get it). We then loaded the body in the casket into the back of our pick-up truck along with several of Agnes' family members and drove for about an hour to the village everything was taking place. As everyone was gathered outside of a house, Jess delivered his message and shared the Gospel, it was cool because although it seemed like there could be potentially some opposition, God totally answered prayers and so seeds were planted and it was reported that several gave their lives to Christ. From there, we went down the road to where the burial was to take place and so after we all walked through some potato crops we arrived at the grave and a few last words and a prayer were given and the body was then lowered into the grave. It broke my heart to see Agnes she just knelt and wept as the burial was taking place. The awesome part is that about two months ago, her son prayed to accept Christ, so although there was sadness for the loss of her son, there was also joy knowing that He was out of pain and with Christ. It definitely was an experience to say the least, I'm so thankful that I had my eyes opened to something that I know takes place so frequently in this country especially. Even in the midst of sadness though, there is beauty, and the drive back was filled with break-taking view where pictures could not do God's creation justice, but the picture above I hope at least captures some of it.

ON A VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: Going to a funeral always gets one thinking about death. If you're reading this and you can't honestly say that you're going to heaven when you die, then I ask you surrender your life to Christ right now. He truly is THE way, THE truth, and THE life, there is no other way to heaven except through the cross. It's been said many times that every one out of one person dies and we all have to stand before God, but the thing that it comes down to will be if that will be the last time you will see Him or getting to spend eternity praising Him. We forget really what the purpose of the cross is, we forget that 1) we're sinners and 2) someone has to pay for that sin. God loves us so much that He CHOSE to come and die for us so we could be with Him for eternity and it wasn't the nails that held Him to the cross, it was His love for us that kept Him there. So really, if you want to truly experience the love of Christ and KNOW without a doubt what will happen to you when your time is up, now is the time to pray and just admit that you are a sinner, that you need a Savior, and that God provided us that Savior with sending His Son to die on the cross and rise from the dead. With that it's not just a prayer, it's not about going to church, memorizing verses, or Christian t-shirts, it's about fully surrendering your life over to Him and seeking to live for Him with every part of your being and not seeking to please Him because you have to, but because you love Him so much in response to His love for you that you can't help trying to do whatever you can to show Him you love Him too.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Our team

So I've been going through the book of Acts in my quiet time and today I was in the first part of chapter 20 and it just really got me thinking. Paul had a great team with him on his journeys. Sometimes it may have been maybe one or two people, other times it was maybe pushing ten, but nonetheless he still had a group of godly people who there with him along the way. I like to imagine what they were like, how they each had different gifts and each one complimented the next and as one was maybe rejected, another was there to encourage him. That's what the body should be like, especially in ministry. Personally, in my mind, I look at the team we have here as almost being like a group who has gone behind enemy lines in order to accomplish the mission given to us. I cannot imagine what it would be like if I were here by myself. It's amazing how God knew the plan He had for me and He also knew the team he wanted me to come and be a part of. He knew the lessons He wanted me to learn and the gifts He gave us all, and along with that, the trials we would go through. You can try and tell other people about some of the struggles we go through, but there's nothing like getting to sit down at the dinner table and talk about maybe some difficulty I'm having and having a resounding "we've been there before...several times."

As I've mentioned in other posts, this past month has really been one where it seems like trials are kind of lined up coming at me and us, one right after the other. But the good thing is, we don't have to go at them alone and that's what's so cool. Through the team God has brought me to be a part of, I can't tell you how much I've learned from just watching them work and live. There are some times that I feel so incredibly young and that in some of these things I'm just like a deer in the headlights. I feel like I'm kind of in the apprentice stage where I'm learning on the job, and although I'm not sure I'll ever really get the hang of it, I don't think there's a better group of people for me to learn from.

Friday, November 13, 2009

One month

It's funny how it's now been about a hear and a half ago that I was counting down from the one month mark, but it was to come to Uganda, but this time it's to go back to the States. I'm arriving on the evening of December 12 and will be in America for two months and coming back to Uganda on February 15. It's so crazy to think that in one month I'll be hopefully sitting in a Chile's surrounded by my family looking forward to what new things God will bring over the next couple of months.

As I've mentioned before, if you want to have kind of a "formal" rendezvous with me, just either let my momma or myself know so that we can put you on the calendar. You would be surprised how quickly two months goes, but I really would love to get to spend time with anyone who wants to, so don't hesitate to let us know.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

(no words)

So right now I'm writing this with whatever energy I have left after this past week. It's been such a roller coaster of highs and lows but I'm glad God is God in all of it. The little "situation" I've been dealing with finally got cleared up as the bike was finally finished being fixed and so I'm happy that's done and over with. Even in times like this, God is faithful to teach us some pretty huge lessons. Like yesterday I had prayed that all of this would turn out ok and according to His will, but then when His will and my will didn't exactly match I was not a happy camper. This morning as I was just thinking about everything God just really convicted me on how I so was not trusting Him and He brought so many verses from Job to mind such as "How should we accept the good from God, but not the bad" and when God speaks to Job and basically goes on for a couple of chapters about how big and powerful He is and Job has no room to question Him. I needed to be reminded of those things so much! I'm still trying to recover but at least it's with a better attitude than I had yesterday and trying to think of the good that came from the whole thing instead of dwelling on the bad and realizing God had it all happen for a purpose. Oh...life lessons.

Friday, November 6, 2009

A difficult couple of days

So we've all gone through those times in life where you learn some super fun life lessons, and you learn them most of the time the hard way. Well, that was me the past couple of days. As I was leaving from teaching on Isaiah 53 at a school, I was going out onto a street and this guy driving a piki (scooter/motorcycle) got freaked and because his brakes and other things didn't work very well we ended up having a little incident where he kind of got knocked by the front corner of the car I was driving. It wasn't bad, the guy had a scrape on his leg, but a couple of things from the bike fell off when the bike tipped over. Little did I know that the decision I made to leave at the time I did, and take the route I did would lead to the last 24 hours being some of the worst ones I've gone through in a long time. Through spending a good chunk of last night at the hospital making sure the guy was ok and then driving out to the boondocks to drop him off (Jess came to help me, so I wasn't alone) then this morning driving out there again to pick him up to take him to get x-rays and bring his bike to the shop (which took 3 hours of sitting around the garage only to find that the part was in Kampala) and was ended by a nice accumulation of incidents where he either tried to act like he was hurt more than he was or to try and get us to pay for things on the bike that weren't caused by the accident, or asking for an exorbitant amount of money to compensate him for the time off of work. I'm absolutely exhausted from these days and tomorrow we still have to deal with him as the mechanic will be finishing the work.
I'm so thankful that he was alright and that it was poor judgment on both sides and not 100% my fault. I think I'm the most distraught just over the emotional aspect, especially in having things be escalated because of the color of my skin. I would be lying if I said that wasn't an issue here when it comes to dealing with problem situations, and today I personally got more insight into just how tough it can be sometimes. I thank God that He provided Jess and JB to help take care of me last night and today. Without them I would have no clue what to do and it would have just been an even bigger mess than it is already.
On a more positive note, I'm so glad that even in the midst of storms, God gives us little glimpses of sunshine. Tonight spent the evening with JB and his family. It was awesome having some AMAZING food, hanging out, and watching Madagascar 2. But oh! I just can't wait for this whole thing to be done with! I just pray that tomorrow goes smoothly and that I don't do/say anything that could hurt my witness. Ughhh! I just can't believe how hard these days have been! But praise God that He is still in control.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

My hero!


So don't laugh, but the contents of this can has saved me from more freakish things than I wish to admit to you right now. From spiders, to wasps, to big momma ants, and everything in between this beautiful can of Doom (yes, I realize you're seeing a backwards image) and others like , have been one of those little blessings here that I just thought I would inform y'all about.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Holidays

So I know that Halloween isn't a holiday but it kind of springs everyone into the holiday mood. It's funny because the celebration of holidays is really not a big deal here. Like today, nobody mentioned Halloween once. Of course the American holidays like 4th of July and Thanksgiving would just be like every other day if we didn't do something special, but even Christmas isn't nearly as blown out as you would almost expect it would be everywhere in the world. I'm not getting down on the "Christmas spirit" with the decorations and everything, I really do love that stuff as much as the next person, but it makes me think sometimes about just how incorrect our emphasis is when it comes to this time of year. Again, I'm saying this as much to remind myself as to just put it out there, but we seem to put more thought into getting the perfect present for that uncle or in-law than we do about their salvation, there has to be something a little off about that or we think more about where our manger scene is going to be placed than what place Jesus has in our every day lives. It's humbling me right now even just writing this. I challenge anyone who is reading this, to right now, pray about who you can tell about the Ultimate Gift during this holiday season and then do it.

If you are reading this and you have yet to really experience that indescribable love, that love that will never fade, that love that words cannot even begin to explain, that love that held God wrapped in skin on a cross 2000 years ago, then think after Christmas, comes New Years, and with New Years comes resolutions. Resolutions to shed a couple pounds, stop that bad habit, or to meet one of your "Bucket list" items. Why not make a resolution that sticks longer than this life, resolve now to follow Him, to trust Him, and above all else to love Him with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Leero

Leero ngezezzaako ok'ogera olunganda oku somesa abasomi mu Jinja Modern. Baa gamba nti teba sabola okuntegera, noloweko nalowoza nti njaku gezako ebintu bigya.

Ok ok, so that roughly says, "today I tried to speak Luganda to teach the students at Jinja Modern. They said that they can't understand me, so I thought I would try something new." I've been learning Luganda (the language in this area) for a few months now and God has blessed me with getting to pick it up fairly easily, but today it was put to the test. I decided to try a new approach and give the introduction, proposition, list the main points, and give the conclusion to my teaching in Luganda to see if they can grab more from the teaching. They refuse a translator and although I try to speak as slow as I possibly can, some days it just isn't quite enough. It seemed to go fairly well, but we'll see after talking to some of the students from there to see how they really thought it went and if I should do it again. I'll be honest and say that sometimes it seems more difficult for there to be a partial language barrier than a full one because those who know English typically only know it well enough to get things confused (of course that's where I'm at in Luganda too). Ughhh...just keep praying that God would help me to know how to effectively teach these kids and in some way help them to better understand what is being said.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The countdown is on: 45 days

So in a just 45 short days, I'll be landing on American soil for the first time in almost a year and a half for my two month long furlough. I have to admit that there are so many mixed emotions as it gets closer and closer. I of course am so excited to see everyone, especially my family, and not to mention eat some food that I've been craving for the past fourteen months; but it's really bitter sweet as I'll have to leave what is now my home for two months. Jinja is now where my life is at, and there is no other place in the world I would rather be than right here doing exactly the work that I have the privilege of doing. I know that those two months will bring about even more emotions, and I know it's going to be hard for many different reasons. One big reason is just how much things have changed in the time that I have been gone, but such is life and I know things have changed for me as well. If you want to "schedule" a specific time to get together for a meal or coffee or just to hang out and talk, just let me know and I'll be sure to make time for you.

What I ask right now is that if you could please just begin praying that I would come back even more passionate about the work God has called me to. Also, please just pray that I would soak up every minute of my time with everyone back home and that I would be able to balance everything from spending time with friends, family, supporters, and various ministry engagements.

Monday, October 26, 2009

A couple snapshots

I know that I can never really put into words all that happens here, but hopefully pictures kind of help. Here are a couple other ministry shots.

The ministry that I get to do on Wednesdays is at a school called Spire Road Primary School. I teach the kids who are in the younger age brackets and so I've just been going through the book of James. Again, it's just one awesome open door God has given us, and I'm so thankful we get to go in here and teach these kids.



One awesome unexpected opportunity God has given me is to teach the kids of our staff members as well as some of their friends. It's very informal and whoever wants to come, can. These kids are so on fire for His Word, and although it used to just be on Sundays that I taught them, they have asked for even more. Now, we get together to go verse by verse through the New Testament on Saturdays and then on Sundays we go verse by verse through the Old Testament. It's a challenge, especially since kids are not really my forte and I have absolutely NO experience teaching them, I don't really change too much of what I teach them than if I were teaching adults and so far they seem to still be learning, so it's been awesome to see glimmers of fruit. Pray they stay on fire for Him as they grow up.



One of the most challenging ministries that I have, is the ministry to the high school aged girls. No matter where you go in the world, this can throw challenges, but little by little we are getting closer and they are learning that I am here to not so much be there friend as I am to pour into them and help them grow in their walks with God above everything else. About three weeks ago, there was hopefully a sort of breakthrough with them where I pray they finally began to get just how much He loves them. We have been going through the book of John for a year now and are just now getting into the last 24 hours of Jesus' life. It's been difficult at times, but at the same time, it's those hard times that can make the good ones so much sweeter.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Mwena Mwena Madness


So a couple of times a term, we as a youth ministry team, decide to get a little ambitious and have certain outreach events that typically contain food and some crazy game. Today we had what we call a Mwena Mwena, which basically means "everyone", as that is our goal for these events: to get everyone and their friends to come and hear God's Word. Today was a little bit on the crazy side between a water balloon game that got a little out of control (shocker I know), and insane amounts of popcorn and coca cola products. It seemed to work out pretty well and we had a lot of kids come, I think the final number was somewhere over 80. One of our pastors, Steven, taught a message on the prodigal son, so pray that the kids would remember the lessons from this teaching and if there were any "prodigal sons" in the crowd that they would humble themselves and run back into their Father's arms. All in all it was a pretty sweet time, of course now I'm beat, but events like these are what we live for.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The simple truth

I've said it before and I will say it again and again: I love to teach! I love sharing God's Word with a group of people be it kids, high school students, or convicted felons, and getting to learn with them, getting to go back to the simple truth of His Word. That truth that is laced through every page, verse, word, and letter of Scripture. James warns us that we should not seek to be teachers because they will be held accountable for what they know and whether they practice what they preach. That being said, teaching God's Word is one of the THE most challenging, humbling, nerve racking things I've ever done as I stand up before people with my Bible, my half sheet of paper that holds my teaching, and all my normal craziness, there's this overcoming feeling of "God, please let this be from you". Rarely do you get reminded more about your short-comings than when you get to teach about the way you should be living. I just pray that as I teach others, I too would be reminded and continued to be broken and molded more into His image each time I open His word, either when I'm by myself or before a group.

The two most important things in my life:


No frills - this is where I stand and teach at the high school

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

it's been a while...

Ok, it's been a little over a week, but that's still a while for me as far as not blogging. For those of you who didn't, know I had a NASTY flu that may or may not have been possibly the flu that everyone is freaking out about (if you know what I mean). I don't know if I've ever really been that sick and I was out of commission for a week, so it was pretty intense. Praise God that life is getting back to normal again, with maybe a little less on my plate though than before, or at least I'm trying to be wise as to when I schedule things now. Of course, this is all taking place when in just over 50 days I'll be back in the States for two months, but it's all good. Anyways, this was just a quick one to tell y'all that I'm alive and soon I'll get more back into my usual of posting random updates of the happenings here.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

A little story

As you all have heard many stories about my BFF (for you older folks, that means 'best friend forever') Aryanna, I thought I'd tell you yet another one. Now remember she's two. Today I heard her brother, Kenny, crying because he had pinched his finger in an umbrella and as I was talking to Kenny about it, she said "I will pray for him" so I told her to go ahead. Now, mind you, I didn't say anything to coach this response, she totally just did it on her own. She covered her little eyes and said a prayer filled with muffled words, and ended it with a big "amen". It was awesome to see a two year old to have such a response of prayer. I love this kid!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A ministry high

There are few things less amazing and humbling than just getting to have God do all the work and give some awesome fruit to ministry. After an already somewhat crazy day, I went to a coffee shop and partook of a glorious "London Fogesque" tea drink and then went to teach at one of the high schools here.

The doors God has opened at this school are cooler than words could ever explain. Not only do they allow me to go in there and teach a Bible study, but I have totally autonomy and don't really have to consult anyone as to what I do or how I do it. They have a sort of Bible club there that meets during lunch but it's seriously just a little TBN with kids walking around the room hooping and hollering and an out of context teaching so I kind of wanted to separate myself from that. So every Thursday I am able to go into the school at 4:40 and teach for however long I want to. Well, last term there were maybe 4 students who came but this term more people continue to come and today we had about 20 kids there. I'm so stoked, I can't even begin to tell you. There's seriously nothing fancy about it, I don't even do any sort of "worship" because that tends to open the doors for some madness when it comes to these students, it's purely the Bible being taught line by line, word by word in the book of Ecclesiastes.

Today we were in 5:1-7 and basically the focus was on worship, prayer, and promises and just having the right attitude when you come to God. I've loved teaching the book of Ecclesiastes because it's kind of one of those underdog books that seems like it's rather depressing, but it's so true and has so much to teach especially the youth. Time and time again Solomon emphasizes the pointlessness of life if God is not in the center - you can have all the money, relationships, titles, etc... but it's all for nothing if you aren't living for Him. It's been great getting to know the students and growing with them as God has really been teaching me a lot during this study as well. It was just too cool!

After that I took a little break for dinner and then I spent some time with Peace (JB's daughter) and went through Matthew 2 with her because she has school when I normally teach the other kids that study. We just hung out and talked and I love how even though she's ten she has such passion and I can't wait to see what God is going to do in her life. As she and I were finishing, the other kids asked me if they could meet with me for yet another Bible study (mind you we already meet twice over the weekend). We're going to try it out tomorrow night and see if they're up to it. I realize that it's a lot but having ten year olds eager to learn more about God is one fire that I don't want to go out so I'll do whatever it takes to encourage that desire with hopes that as they are being trained in the way that they go, they will not depart from it when they're old.

I just praise God for all of these opportunities. It just never ceases to amaze me how He works as truly it is ALL His doing as He's brought these things and seriously just dropped them in my lap with little or no initial pursuit on my part. He's just so awesome!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Four adults and a baby

I wish I could convey to you just how comical it was tonight going out for our weekly trip to Ling Ling (the legit Chinese restaurant here). My friend Judy is adopting a little girl, and this little girl is three but is the size of one year old. We had a rocky start with the adjustment period, but we're doing good now and quickly becoming good friends. Judy wasn't feeling to spiffy tonight and so I got Malia (her little girl) and Jess, Bev, Ryan, and I went to Ling Ling with Malia and leaving Judy at home to get some rest. Oh my goodness, it was hilarious. I can only imagine what we all looked like there, being that not one of us is necessarily at the place in our lives for small children. I really could relate to that movie Three Men and a Baby because between feeding her and trying to keep her from crying in the restaurant we were a sight to see.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A night with the boys


In order to encourage cohesion in the worship team, the guys decided they needed to hang out more together. Be being the A/V chick/little sister, the invitation was also extended to me. It never fails, I love hanging out with the guys God has placed in my life. I don't know if I will ever forget having five guys and me crammed into Ryan's wee living room playing one of the craziest games of spoons ever (and I've played some pretty gnarly games). Ryan popped some popcorn and I brought over some oreos and it was just a blast, we later found out that even over at the main house they could hear us. On an added note, I never knew shuffling was a cultural thing, you should see how these guys shuffle, it's too cool, and something I don't know I'll ever get the hang of.

Oh the wee ones


I think it's rather comical the way that God works. He brings opportunities to us that we never expected and frankly thought were never going to happen. When it comes to people under the age of 14, I always kind of assumed that I wasn't "called" to that particular age group. For almost a year now though, I've been getting together for a Bible study with the kids whose parents work here at the church as well as some of their friends. One day they just came up to me while I was teaching the older girls and they said, "Kelli, teach us too" and the rest is kind of history. We began with the Ten Commandments and then from there did the Sermon on the Mount and now as I've kind of seen what they're capable of learning as well as the things that they NEED to be learning before they are thrust in the midst of the madness that is Christianity today, God just has been showing me that they need to know the whole Truth, not just the "stories" or bits and pieces. I will be honest and say that the things I teach them and how we go about everything is a wee bit unorthodox, but they already go to normal Sunday school, so this is more to compliment what they're learning. I can only imagine what some people think though when they hear me using words like Pentateuch, hypostatic union, and anthropomorphic. Last Sunday we began in Genesis and they all decided that on Saturdays we should have a separate Bible study and go through Matthew and progress through the New Testament also. These kids are seriously so hungry for the word and you should see them with their Bibles, it's way too cool! I just thank God that even if He brought me for the sole purpose of pouring into these kids and helping them to dive into His Word so they can be "thoroughly equipped" then that's fine by me. I just pray that they not only know the Bible, but they LIVE it.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The B.I.B.L.E

Yes that's the book for me... So growing up, I was always surrounded by Bible teaching, I just kind of assumed that's how all churches were. Oh man, was I wrong! Since I've been here I have had my eyes so opened to how truly rare it is for people to really learn from and know their Bibles, it's insane! Today I taught at a school with about 15 high school students and I had to kind of hide my surprise when these kids did not know where the book of James was. These are kids who have been going to church most likely their whole lives but they've missed out on learning how amazing and full His Word is. It definitely got me thinking of ways to foster growth in them knowing their Bibles so that they can know just how much it is "living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, dividing between soul and spirit".

As I'm typing this, I'm also realizing that some who are reading this may not have experienced how amazing His Word is. I could seriously go on and on about this topic, and you can look forward to more blogs on the subject, but can I just encourage you in this one area for the time being: read the Bible DAILY. Make it something that you can't live without just like how many of us are with our morning coffee. Make today the day you begin, and just start with a book and work your way through it. If you like to start from the beginning and rock either Genesis or Matthew be my guest, if you would rather just embark upon the epistles, that's cool too, just read His Word and soak it all in, every verse, every sentence, every word.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

So sad

I'll be honest when I say that my generation saddens me. We are so cynical and think we know everything to such a point that although we say we are very open minded, we're actually the exact opposite. Last night, I went with Jess and Bev to talk to a group of exchange students from America who are spending 4 months here at a Christian university. This was my first time going and talking to this group, but Bev and Jess go every four months to talk to the new group of students, and so they had given me a little idea of what it would be like (or what it's normally like). As we were talking about ministry, and the time came for questions, they asked questions that were so based upon worldly ideas and philosophies that we were all really taken off guard and before we knew it, instead of it being a night of pouring into and somewhat encouraging fellow believers, it turned into us laying out the Gospel to several people who although they went to a Christian university, didn't know Christ at all. I wish I could say that I rose to the occasion in the capacity that I wished, but it was only after the fact that I realized just how lost those students were. The beauty of hindsight is thinking of all the things you could have said that would have been so "perfect". But then again, we still brought the truth to them in full force and that's all that matters in the end and God takes care of the rest.

Being that I've been here for a while and am used to the usual opposition we receive here, I had forgotten what Americans were like when it came to their faith and so we kind of have the opposite problem one would have in America: there they believe in nothing, here they believe in everything. Here, people are so open and have a child-like faith that most Americans wish they had. America has truly become a post-Christian society in how numb and opposed we are to the real truth. One of the biggest things that got me was how focused they were on how the culture could affect the delivery of the Gospel and they asked how the culture changed the Gospel, and we just had to emphasize that the Gospel isn't cultural, it's Truth, God does not change and the Truth is the Truth no matter where you are or where you come from be it from New York City or some village in the bush.

Pray for our country and especially pray for those who are college age because so many are seriously so lost.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Oh yeah...I'm in Africa

I know it sounds funny, but seriously there are times I really forget that fact. I mean even right now while I can hear some big event going on at a church, a child screaming in one of the slum areas near by, and mosquito bites itching me on my foot I still kind of don't have it hit me that I'm here (even though I've now been here over a year). There are times though where I just go, "Woah!" Today was one of those days. As I was finishing teaching at a secondary (high) school and dropping off one of the girls in one of the slums here, I was driving up this "road" and the sun was progressing towards the setting position and at the end of the road are all sorts of little stands that sell different things, there were goats and chickens and children running about, and with the smell of burning trash in the air, I had one of those "Oh yeah, I'm in Africa" moments. Those moments just kind of bowl me over because as I've said before this has become my home, it's not some extreme or exotic place but it's just where life happens like it does everywhere else in the world, but there are those times where it's just such a cool contrast to what life was back in the States. I love those little epiphanies that keep you realizing what God has done and reminding you of all that He's brought about.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

An insane ministry day

In case you haven't heard, I absolutely love my job. I'm writing this absolutely exhausted from a day jam packed with ministry but I loved every last second of it. Thinking about this day and how much God rocked my face off with the opportunities He brought, truly amazes me. This morning after I got back from the gym we had our staff ladies prayer time, then I studied for prison and prepared some stuff for the book of Esther which I began to go through with one of the girls here. After that, I met with Mama Peace and helped her with her reading while simultaneously giving her a survey of the Bible, had a quick break for lunch and then it was off to prison. Prison was absolutely awesome today, the ladies were so full of joy (which hasn't been there for some weeks) and during worship they were jumping and dancing and it was just awesome! I taught on the dreams of the cupbearer, baker, and Pharaoh in the life of Joseph and how God has "delays" for a reason. Getting back from prison, I hung out and colored with the kids for a little bit, helped Bev set up her Blog, and then went to pick up one of the girls who is in secondary school to go and hang out. Now, I'm not sure if you know this about me, but I'm a firm advocate of coffee shop discipleship and so that's what I did with this girl. We partook of the half-price drinks during Flavour's happy hour and just were able to talk about stuff going on her life and I realized some of the uphill battles I am still needing to fight with the girls. Coming back home, I grabbed some dinner and then I went and met with Ruthie, she's 10 and she's such an awesome kid. She had given me a note the other day asking me to show her how to study her Bible and so that's what we started tonight (the book of Esther). As I was meeting with Ruthie, the guys from the School of Ministry asked me to come and talk to them and further explain things for them so we spent a good hour talking about Soteriology (salvation, election, etc...). All that to say, not one minute of this day could have taken place without God bringing it about and I'm just so amazed that He has brought me here and is allowing me to be a part of His work in the capacity that I am. I'm truly humbled and truly tired so I think it's time to go to bed.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Riots


You hear about riots all the time happening after some big sports event or around some big political upheaval, but very rarely do you get to really be in the middle of one, however I was in the middle of one the other day and it will be something I will never forget.

Bev and I were driving to Entebbe to stay the night and pick up Ryan early in the morning. We were enjoying the fact that we really didn't have things we had to do in Kampala this time so we were just sitting and enjoying the quiet of the afternoon at a coffee shop when I got a text from my friend Judy. Little did we know this text would be the beginning of a crazy chain of events. Judy told us that at a mall called Garden City there were riots and gun shots and for us not to go there, so we steered clear and went a different way. As we were making our way out of town we rounded a corner and saw thousands of people and then as we got closer we saw that they were all running, a few yards ahead of us there were burning tires and as I we were driving gun shots were going off that were very very close to us and people were falling on the ground to avoid getting shot also and then driving away a guy threw a bag of cement in front of our car. It was absolutely insane! Bev and I remained calm but after getting through that it began to dawn on us what we had just been through and how serious it was. We contacted people back in Jinja to let them know we were ok and also people staying in Kampala to make sure they were staying safe. Then after we picked up Ryan in the morning, we made sure to head out early before the people got crazy again, we were passing through Kampala without many problems but then we reached Mokono and there were rocks all in the road and then one of the craziest things to see was a huge truck that had been set on fire and it was still smoking. I can't tell you how surreal all this was. In a couple of other towns we saw the aftermath of some of the madness of burnt tires, rocks in the road, and police everywhere with guns and sticks and even one had a bull whip.

Just be praying for our country because of this unrest and that this whole mob mentality would die down. It's sad to see and prayerfully it will all be over soon.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Wednesday Night Bible Study


Wednesday nights rock my face off. Going through the book of Genesis is too awesome for words. So many people write the OT off as if it's not applicable for life today but it SO is! "ALL Scripture is God breathed and useful for rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness"

Monday, September 7, 2009

Coming around the bend

It's always crazy how you can anticipate change and know that it's inevitable and you can do absolutely nothing to stop it from happening, be it good or bad. For six weeks my partner in crime has been in the States and will be coming back this week, the students who have been on holiday for the past month are going back to school this week, and there have been some interesting changes in friendships lately as well. Right now I'm feeling like I'm on the edge of some big changes and I just don't quite know what they all are, all I know is that I should start holding on now. I've been reading the book of Acts for my quiet time and just reading about guys like Philip who had awesome ministry opportunities fall into their laps or when John and Peter were at the temple and came across the guy who had been unable to walk and even though they weren't "on the clock" so to speak they still took that opportunity, have definitely challenged me to seek God about what new things He may be bringing my way, and that I just need to walk through those open doors. Between different friendships, potential opportunities at new schools, and things God has been laying on my heart I'm excited to see what's going to happen but at the same time there's always that crazy out of control feeling that I, being a control freak, am not really a fan of; but ready or not, here it comes!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Ma boyz


Back in the States, I have some pretty awesome guys that are more like brothers than they are friends, and God has brought me a couple of guys here who are along those lines. Davis, Johnson, and Richard are three of the coolest, most hard-working guys you will ever meet and I've seen God do some awesome stuff in their lives since I've known them. Today, I took these three guys to Flavours, my most favorite place in all of Jinja, as a thank you for their hard work at the conference. They have given me a hard time about how I enjoy frequenting it, and I know the food is not necessarily what they are used to, but they were good sports about it and we had a blast just hanging out. Now, these are just three of the guys that have become my "brothers" and there are a few more not pictured, including one who's in the States right now, but is coming back soon. I love how God has truly put godly guys in my life that I can be real with and respect and see there are some real good guys still out there. I truly do thank God for all of these awesome guys, both here and back in the States.

And if any of you guys are reading this (you know who you are) all I can say is thank you for being such awesome friends to me and tolerating me as your annoyingly blunt and overly protective sister :). Much love to y'all.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Home

There are some song lyrics that really just ring so true, and for some time now the song "This is Home" by Switchfoot had lyrics that totally and completely describe my feelings.
This is home, now I'm finally where I belong, where I belong. Yeah, this is home. I've been searching for a place of my own. Now I've found it, maybe, this is home. Yeah, this is home.

I know that this is hard to hear for some of you, but this truly has become home to me. I this truly has become my home, for as long God has me here for of course. It's just amazing how God brings things about and leads us to places and new chapters of our life. It hurts sometimes, but in the end it's so worth it.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Our newest addition


Mary and Stephen, two of our staff members, just had a baby girl on Friday. She is so tiny and it's just so cool that they were able to have this baby, it's truly a miracle. I was able to go and see her today, and can't wait to see how she's going to be as she grows up. Welcome to the world baby girl (they still haven't officially come up with a name for her).

Day Three


I woke up on Day 3 (my one year anniversary of being in Africa) and I was so tired, it hurt. I know it was somewhat comical for the guys on my team because my brain and my mouth/hands were not communicating very well. We had breakfast, had the kids pack, and then had our final quiet time and there were even more kids around to have their quiet time and it really just took my breath away looking around. Richard taught the final session and they had one last small group time. We got lunch ready and were able to finally send them home.

I wish I could take some sort of credit for this conference, but I KNOW that it was all Him. This conference seriously blew my mind with just God was so in the middle of everything and yes, I know the areas where there could be some improvement and the “issues” that went on behind the scenes but it totally surpassed all expectations I had for how this conference was going to go. The part I personally loved the most is just seeing our “leaders” step up to the plate, each one of them was amazing! I loved getting witness maturity in my guys right before my eyes, and even this morning seeing them in church I saw something new in them. I had three guys in particular who I wish I could use words to describe how much I love them and was blessed by them over this conference, they were there for me when I needed them the most and I would call them on the walkie talkie and always on the other side there was an “I’m coming”. We really worked as a team, and I know for a fact that was an answered prayer. I’m still on a high from this conference, yes, I’m tired, but I can’t even really sleep just because my mind keeps thinking about the conference. God is just too good for words.

Day Two


The day began bright and early at around 5:15, which is better than the previous morning which began at 4:30. We started setting up again for the day, the students had their breakfast and then we officially began the day. One of the best parts of the whole conference was when the 70 students who were there at that time (the rest were there by about ten) broke off to have their quiet time. I loved looking around the campus and seeing kid after kid with their Bible's open and taking notes. The teachings got under way with Danielle teaching on how Scripture corrects us and then it was time for more small groups and seriously after each small group time (there were six) the leaders would come and tell me how awesome their groups were and all the questions they were asking and what they were learning. From there we had Bev who taught a killer message on how Scripture trains us in righteousness. We then rocked some lunch (which was amazing yet again) it’s funny how good rice and beans can taste. During lunch we found out that our teacher for the next session, Steven, just had a baby girl, but he was willing to still come and teach and he taught a great message on how Scripture equips us and then the teachings concluded with Don taught on how we are able to do every good work.

After the teachings and small groups, we had some crazy games. For those of you who are familiar with the Weekend, think y-games. Game 1: crab walk to a tub of popcorn and fish for candy hearts and bring them back, Game 2: fill up a cup that you are holding in your mouth and run over and try and pour it into a Coke bottle on the forehead of someone lying down, Game 3: Paint a picture using ketchup and mustard using only your face as your paint brush, Game 4: Water balloons. It was nice and intense and I was totally and completely exhausted at the end of the day, but I couldn’t even go to sleep because I just kept thinking about how much God was blessing this conference.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Day One



Each school holiday there is a youth conference held at one of the Calvary's here in Uganda. This holiday, it was our turn. Because Ryan is currently in the States, Richard (Ryan's assistant) and myself had the fun task of planning this one. I have to admit I was in management heaven, but I did reach my breaking point a time or two. Well, today it officially got under way. When it was all said and done, we had over one hundred kids here with about seventy of them staying the night for the next couple of days. The definitely had its hicups like one of the youth pastors from another church not coming with his kids and he was actually scheduled as one of our teachers, but that verse "be ready in season and out of season" had to come into play and so it is only by God's grace that these kids actually learned things from my teaching. We had three different teachings centered around the first part of 2 Timothy 3:16, and some awesome small group times. It's fun hearing some of our "leaders" come up and talking about how cool their group was. I love seeing people step up to the plate, and there have been a couple of the guys here have definitely shown new sides to them that I've never seen before. I have three guys in particular that were my rocks that I could lean on and turn to, they have been such a blessing and I love these brothers of mine. I new before hand that I would be able to count on them, hence warning them ahead of time that they were going to be worked hard these next couple of days, but I never would have imagined that they would be this great! I have seen how God is using this conference and I just now have to prepare myself for tomorrow and pray that I can get a little sleep as last night there was not a whole lot of that going on.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The rainbow

One of the best quotes I've heard is "If you want to enjoy the rainbow, you've got to endure the storm". That would define the past 24 hours, it has been chuck full of crashing waves and 90mph winds (metaphorically speaking of course). Last night did not consist of very much sleep and this morning I was dreading what the day would bring, I had to try and "fix" what I had done yesterday only to have the issue not resolved and potentially made worse. Jess called a staff meeting for us today to discuss how we all have been getting pretty well slammed with attack and that we just need to come together as a family and not allow these sort of things to tear us down, the end of the meeting consisted one of the most cathartic hugs I've ever gotten and God is good to restore relationships. Now I just have to tell you, this staff (both local and missionary) truly is like a family. Yes, we have our struggles and we all fall every now and then, but that's why we're here, to pick one another back up. We have our little spats, but in the end it's truly our love for Him and one another that keeps us together. Along with the hug and the prayers, one of our guys, Irege, made me a carrot cake to brighten my day and the kids that live here wrote me a letter and made the most beautiful and sweetest smelling bouquet I've ever seen. It's funny how much life seriously can be like a roller coaster where in just a day you can come crashing down, but through God's grace you're able to climb up again. He definitely answered prayers and brought new depth to a lot of relationships. I praise Him for how He has worked, even in the hard times to draw us closer to Him. I also praise Him for my family here and pray that we will continue to grow together more and more.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The things I do not want to do, I do

Those unbelievably true words were written by Paul and thinking about words like that and then the book of 2 Corinthians where Paul is having to do damage control for what he had said in his first letter are ringing so real in my life tonight. I tend to give you the "backstage pass" to missionary life, and I'm going to be more honest in this post than anyone ever should be. That being said, here we go.

Some perceive missionaries as preaching to thousands or whacking their way through the bush and sharing the Gospel with some "primitive" group of people. In my experience in dealing with missionaries (be it those who have been on the field 30 years or 1 year), their main ministry, their main heartaches/victories come from the people they are in some way involved with on a daily basis, those people who have in some way truly become disciples. You can kind of think of life here as you're always having to be "on", not making any mistakes and not offending anyone. Now, being absolutely flawed, especially in the area of being honest to a fault, kind of puts a couple of obstacles into that "perfect" persona that is kind of expected of me from others. Especially in a culture where it's so taboo to correct someone for fear that they might feel offended. Dealing with confrontation and that terrible feeling of conviction and also that sickening feeling of how you just had to tick someone off has been what life has been for me lately. Tonight and even the rest of this past week I related to Paul on so many levels it's honestly insane. I've understood what Paul means when he talks of how people don't like what he's saying and how he still struggles with his flesh and doing those things he does not want to do. All I can say is that it's been a couple of crazy humbling and eye-opening weeks.

Friday, August 21, 2009

For all you worship leaders out there

Now remember she's two so her theology isn't very pronounced just yet, but you gotta love this.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

My unproductive day


Have you ever had one of those days when you know you should be getting a whole lot of stuff done, but you just can't seem to get to it, and before you know it the day's over? Well, that was my day today...this morning I met with my guys about the conference but that was about it as far as the things I should have been doing. At one point, Aryanna and I had our own little real life episode of Sesame Street with me realizing that she's just as stubborn as I am (remember she's two) and at one point while we were arguing about how many fingers I was holding up and she told me "shh!". It was one of those things that was so funny but I had to tell her that's bad juju to tell to people who are older than you. After I played "Grover" for the morning, I had my Luganda lessons and then decided it would be fun to wash the car with kids. I don't know how clean the car actually got, but we had fun. I guess you could call it a pretty good day, just ignore the fact that all the stuff I had to do today is now rolled over to tomorrow :).

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Just a note

Right now I'm sitting in my favorite place in Jinja, Flavours, with an iced mocha, listening to some Santana, and making a study guide on Romans for our youth conference that is going to be next week. Every now and then I get those little realizations of, "holy cow! I'm in Africa!" It's funny because as I look around right now, what I see is nothing like what you'd expect Africa to look like. Don't get me wrong, it's different, and if you drive for just five minutes you can see village life of little huts without electricity or water, but life here in town is far from that. I love how God knows what we can handle, as I'm just not sure how well I would have been able to manage here even ten years ago, when you called home maybe once or twice a year because it was such an ordeal. Now as I'm utilizing wireless internet and drinking my lovely coffee beverage, I just love how God gives us these little blessings that just help us to endure and do what He's called us to.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Hard labor?

For the past few days we have been taking out a big tree on our compound so that the trees below it that actually produce something can grow. We've had several guys working on it with machetes, that's right I said machetes. That's how they cut the limbs off, then to dig out the roots they used hoes and pick-axes. Finally today they brought a truck and tied a rope to the somewhat decapitated tree to try and pull it out and the guys were hammering away at the roots, finally it came time to try and use a chainsaw and they cut at the tree and then pulled on a rope and the tree came crashing down. They still are having to take care of the stump, but my goodness, I was watching from a window (as I knew if I was down there either I or one of the guys would loose a limb if I tried to help), and I just couldn't believe how hard they (well most of them) were working.

To go along with that, this week, the power company has been working to put a transformer onto our property since the oil keeps getting stolen from the one right outside our fence. The guys used shovels to dig through rock hard ground and then they had to hoist the poles up by themselves with a whole lot of whoopin' and hollerin' in order to get them in sync. It was crazy to witness how it happens verses just using a crane and big ol'e drills.

Friday, August 14, 2009

A little snapshot

Have you ever had one of those moments where you're some place and you wish you could just somehow capture that moment including the sights, smells, and sounds? Well, tonight I had one of those nights. We have a Bible study at a slum called Loco that is just around the corner from the church. Every Friday night some of our staff members go there and host the study, and one of our guys, Martin, has just started taking on the teaching there. In order to boost attendance it was decided that I should allow my little white face do some promotion to bring people in to listen to what Martin was teaching. Well, tonight that plan worked.

Now that I've shared some background, I'll get to the point and share my little snapshot, a memory I hope I never will forget. I was sitting there in the middle of this little field on a bench surrounded by cow .... and I was just looking around taking everything in. There were these two really cool looking dead trees up against a sunset sky, rows of houses with clothes hanging on makeshift clothes lines, cows grazing all around us, a nice breeze, the smell of trash burning, the sounds of chickens and kids playing, a group of about twelve people sitting and listening to the message, and Martin teaching on how we need to love one another. It was such a cool time, and I'm so thankful that God allowed me that time to just take it all in and for a brief moment, just "be still".

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tonight's entertainment

So Bev told us about a meteor shower that is supposed to take place over the next three days. So we headed outside at about 9:30 just to check it out and by the time we came in about an hour later, I honestly didn't want to leave. I only saw a handful of meteors, but it was so awesome (especially towards the end when I got a blanket to lay down on and some sunscreen) that I didn't really want to go in. Jess, Bev, Judy, and I were just hanging out, us girls were laying down watching and we could here a disco playing some crazy African music in between the frogs croaking and the crickets chirping. It was an absolutely clear night and although the meteor sightings were sparse, it was awesome just looking at the stars and seeing the Milky Way. It was an awesome unexpected treat to finish off a pretty sweet day.

Prison play by play

So I always am trying to give everyone back in the States at least a little idea of life here in Uganda. And I realized I have said some things about the prison, but have not done it any justice by way of letting you know how it all goes down when we go there. Taking pictures there is a big no,no so you'll have to settle for my descriptions.

Julie (my translator and one who has been doing prison ministry since it began) and I head out at around 12:45 Tuesday afternoons. We drive over some lovely Ugandan roads (sarcasm emphasized) and reach a big gate where an ascari (guard) has to let us in and we drive through and on this long road we drive past different crops, some houses of people who live on the prison land, Lake Victoria is to our right and different herds of cows and goats are being herded. We reach where our prison is at (the condemned section) and we go and use a knocker on this HUGE door, seriously you look up at it and your heart sinks, someone looks at you through a little flap in the door and then they let you in. We check in with the guards there, drop off our keys, and sometimes they have to check our bags, and then we head to meet the ladies. In the condemned womens section, there are only about 9 ladies there right now, these are all ladies who have been accused of some have admitted to crimes such as murder. We enter into their part of the prison and if we're lucky they let us inside a room where they have a big mat on the floor. The ladies come and rush up to greet you with a special hug where it's kind of like how the french greet but with hugs instead of kissing. You take off your shoes and go and sit down on a mattress on the floor and then after some chit-chat we stand up and do some worship. I will tell you one thing, there are few things on earth as awesome and the worship you hear in Ugandan prisons, it is so full of joy when there is no obvious thing to be joyful about. We then sit down and I teach. Right now we're going through the stories in the book of Genesis in a quasi expository fashion. After the teaching we rock some coloring pages since many of them have never really colored before and it's a good release for them and then we head out at about 3.

It is seriously one of the highlights of my week, I think because it's just so different from everything else I do or ever thought I'd be doing. They're all awesome ladies and this Tuesday I think God opened new doors for us to get closer. I'm truly just so amazed that God has blessed me with such an awesome opportunity.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Holiday season begins

So the school system here revolves around terms and in between each term there is at least a one month long holiday. This term's holiday is just getting underway and I have to be honest, it's a little overwhelming. Personally, here at the compound the time of peace and quiet that typically comes during the day is on hiatus. For the next four weeks I'll get to hear kids screaming running up and down the stairs and "Kelli" being called through my windows. Ministry wise, this time also brings a whole other realm of craziness. We have several of our students who go to boarding schools and during the holiday they come back home to stay with friends and family, I humbly ask that you pray for me to have wisdom in dealing with the girls who are coming back because there are times that my gift of bluntness clashes with them wanting to do whatever they want. It should be an interesting month, and I just pray that God would guide every aspect of it and that I would take every opportunity I can to continue to make disciples.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The "thorn"

2 Corinthians 12:1-10 could quite possibly one of the most cited passages in all of scripture, at least in my life it is. In this passage, Paul is continuing his defense of his apostleship, ministry, and character to a church that he poured his blood, sweat and tears into, yet they bucked against his rebukes in his earlier letters and started attacking him. We discover in this passage how fourteen years before the letter was written he was taken up to see to the third heaven/paradise and was able to hear things that we could never even fathom. Because of how awesome it was to be given that experience, God knew Paul risked becoming prideful and therefore sent something to come upon him that caused him frequent pain and suffering. In the Greek, the word "thorn" actually means stake, and I love the way one commentator put it when he said, think of a stake being driven into and killing your flesh...ah I love that raw image that comes with that description. Even though Paul cried out to God to have Him remove that stake, God continually responded that Paul should find all satisfaction in the fact that God is using this thing for a purpose: for His glory. It was sent to Paul, not merely as something that God went, "Oh no! Well, might as well make the most of it". No, God sent this to Paul with the specific purpose of making him and and keeping him humble. And after Paul is told this, he didn't just tolerate or endure the suffering but rejoiced in it knowing that its end result would be him being refined and molded more into the image of Jesus.

God is so good to know us even better than we know ourselves. He can see into the darkest places of our hearts and see those sins that we tell no one about and we even try to forget about ourselves. I think of how in my own life one of those sins definitely is that nasty, hideous, revolting sin of pride. It's sobering to think that in those times when you truly consider yourself humble are the very times you are the exact opposite. For me, my "thorn" would be the physical one dealing with all the "disabilities" I have. Whenever a spiritual high happens and I begin to puff myself up, no joke, it's like "WHAM!" I'm taken out of commission for sometimes weeks at a time because my knee is in so much pain or someone comments about how I limp. There are few things more humbling then overhearing a little kid asking their mom "What's wrong with her leg?!" or some group of guys as you walk by making jokes about how you're "crippled". I'm not sharing this for sympathy or throwing a pitty party but for the exact opposite reason because after studying this passage, I'm reminded of so many huge lessons that I need to hold onto. I'm so glad God knows me and loves me enough to send me a "stake for my flesh" to keep me on my knees and it seems like every time I try to stand up and walk on my own and full of myself, he just sends me right back to my knees again and once again I'm reminded, "My grace is sufficient for you".

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