Friday, December 31, 2010

2010... the year I grew up

When I talk to most people, they think that I'm at least a couple of years older than I really am. Well, I may look and even sometimes act the part, but honestly I still feel like I'm back in high school most of the time trying to find out who I am. Well, 2010 was quite possibly the most intense year of growing up that I can remember both in the relational and spiritual sense.

It began with me back in the States, assuming what life for the next year would look like. I spent the beginning two months enjoying time with my family, getting vision for future ministry, and understanding more about my place in the body of Christ. As I got back to Uganda, things began to set in motion for an intense season of change. I enjoyed a couple of really cool somewhat stable months, where I kind of feel like God was maybe preparing me for what was to come the second half of the year. Right before my birthday in June, we had a couple of huge events here at the church and with that, the chaos that would be my life for the remainder of the year began to ensue. Right after my birthday, I knew that I was getting very close to what would be known as the most difficult season of my life and so I escaped to a place called Sipi Falls to kind of get my eyes focused on God before everything started to really happen. After I got back, it seriously was almost an instantaneous "Wham!". Friends left, a foot got broken, more friends left, I was flying solo running the show here, new friends came as still more left. I took a couple of trips that instead of being times of relaxation and escape segwayed into even more intense times of breaking and maturing. I've had to deal with people around me going through incredibly difficult situations, things that I'd previously been shielded from in my short 24 years. I lost two grandmas and nearly lost one of my closest friends. And to kind of put a nice layer of icing on the "breaking" cake, I ended the year with yet another cast.

I'm not saying these things to complain or to try and get sympathy, but actually to testify about God's grace. You read about Paul, and all he endured for the sake of the Gospel and just for God to make him into the minister that he was and it wasn't easy, but it was all to God's glory as the end result was a man that is one of the most influential personalities in Christianity. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm no Paul. But through these times of breaking, I've definitely learned what Paul meant by how we can see God's strength the most in our times of unimaginable weakness. God has grown me up both in the ways of life as well as in the ways of Him through all these things. Yes, I had my fair share of pity parties, No, I don't have it all figured out yet and have definitely not achieved perfection. I don't know what 2011 will bring. I can tell you right now though that I'm anticipating another year of intense changes and continued breaking, but little by little God teaches me and reminds me that He is with me through all the heartaches, chaos, and pain that is still yet to come.

As I stand at the doorstep of this new year, I think the best way to communicate what I hope for and ask from all of you is a quote by St. Augustine, "Once you have learnt what I am, pray that I fall not away, but be perfected" and that I would NEVER take my eyes off of Him no matter what comes my way in 2011.

Another cast saga

So two weeks ago when I first got my cast, the "doctor" told me that it would only need to stay on for two weeks and to come back on the 31st to get it off (which I might add is two days over two weeks). Knowing how things work here, I called him yesterday (yes, I called the ortho guy directly) and asked him when I could meet with him so he could remove my cast. He told me that he was on his way to Kampala but would be available tomorrow (today) and that he would see me at nine. Ok, cool, I thought it was fairly safe to bank on that assurance that he would be there at nine and my cast would come off... well, as we say here "it's never easy". I got to the clinic at around 8:55 and waited in the waiting room... 9:15 then rolled around and I asked another dr how long I should wait before I tried to call the guy since there is a reason why it's called "African time". Then came 9:30, that's when the phone calls started, and lo and behold he didn't answer. I proceded to wait and call for the next fifteen minutes before deciding to progress with the rest of my day and hope that I or the clinic staff would get through to him. I get home at about 11:30 and still no word from the guy and the cast was still on my hand, two and a half hours after I had thought I would be cast free. By this time, I was livid. The guy already had some of the worst "bedside manner" I've ever encountered but I still had hope. After Jess and Bev heard me unload about how upset I was that I still had the cast on, I waited another hour to try and find another solution, and finally Bev put me out of my misery. I put my arm out on the kitchen counter and Bev took out the kitchen shears and her exacto knife and began going to town. Little by little the cast was being chiseled away and finally we decided to try and soak it. I won't lie, I felt like a bit of a rebel getting a cast wet which as we all know is the number one cardinal rule of having a cast about not getting water on it. Soon, the plaster softened and Bev was able to cut through it "like butta" and all I can say is "FREEDOM". It was only two weeks, but it felt like forever, and I'm just so relieved to be back to "normal" again. I have been dared to not get hurt (no casts, x rays, pain meds, severe bleeding, etc..) for four months...haha we'll see. Time will only tell if 2011 will be as "exciting" as the last half of 2010 was.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Casting the vision

Every school holiday, our youth group either organizes or attends what we call a youth conference. And in two weeks and one day, it will be time yet again to put on the event where youth swarm our campus, attend several Bible studies, have small group time, play games and consume large sums of food. I have to admit I was struggling with grasping the real vision for this conference and although we've been talking about it for a couple of months now, it's finally upon us. Last night though, was one of those nights of just awesome inspiration and the ideas just kept coming. I've known for about a month now that I wanted the main theme of the conference to circle around the book of Nehemiah, but that's where the ideas stopped. Last night though, God just opened my eyes to some really cool things and I just pray that I can effectively implement them, which I know is possible if I rest on Him alone.

Our little youth group here at Calvary Chapel Jinja has been going through a difficult year and basically we've lost two youth pastors in the past twelve months. To go along with the wall idea of Nehemiah, we're pretty much crumbling and are in desperate need of rebuilding and just re-igniting the passion within the group for both ministry and their personal walks with God. And last night I realized that the usual format of inviting as many youth as possible from all over Uganda maybe wasn't the best plan for this conference and that for this one we needed to intentionally and powerfully pour into the kids of this church for the three day conference.

I'm so excited because Nehemiah is just so perfect for what our youth group needs to get back to. There are going to be seven teaching sessions: 1) Heart breaking over the condition of the "wall", 2) The importance of prayer, 3) The importance of unity, selflessness, and working together, 4) The reality of spiritual attack and how to deal with it, 5) The place God's Word should have in our lives, 6) The importance of worship, and 7) The importance of holy living (I'm still working on the right phrasing for the titles). But really I'm just super stoked because I've been at such a loss about what to do with our youth group and how to get us back to where we need to be and it looks like this could help.

The main reason why I'm writing this and kind of casting this vision is because I/we desperately need prayers for this event. Please pray for the details (weather, food, supplies, the electricity to stay, etc....); the speakers (that they would effectively communicate the message God wants the students to hear); the small group leaders (they would have wisdom to answer questions and counsel the kids and apply the teachings); for the quiet times (that the students would focus and glean much from that time); for the worship (that the kids would truly learn what it means to fall on their knees before His throne); and for me that I would allow God to be in control, that I would trust in His strength and not mine, and that I would take the time to "be about the better thing".

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My parents...

I have said several times that I am blessed beyond all belief with the family God has given me and honestly, this is just kind of a cry out from the rooftops about how amazing my family is, and specifically my parents. My parents have been married for almost 27 years and they still love each other so much. My dad wakes up super early to make my mommy breakfast before she has to go to work, he randomly brings her flowers still after all these years, for special events he always tries to spoil her, my mommy would do anything for my daddy and she has, and above all that, I can NEVER remember a time when my parents went to bed angry at each other and they seriously are still each other's best friend. I used to take their relationship for granted, but now as I grow up and see how other married couples are, I realize just how fortunate I am to have the best example of what marriage should be like with my parents. I know this may seem random and a little on the personal side, but I guess this just stems from me missing them so much it hurts right now, and just thinking about how special our little family is. For those of you in the ABQ area, if you see my parents, please just give them a hug for me... because they really are pretty much amazing.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

To Save a Life

Is your life, faith, ministry just a set of meaningless motions? Do you merely call yourself a Christian or do you live like Christ? Do you get so busy doing the “work” of the ministry that you forget the people you’re supposed to minister to? Do you take the command to love your neighbor with the stipulation that you’ll show that unconditional love as long as someone is of the same grade, sport, clique, or socio-economic class?

I just finished watching the movie, "To Save a Life", and let's just say it challenged me big time. This movie is a sobering reminder of a couple big things: 1) How you treat others does matter, 2) in youth ministry we can get in huge ruts that can have heartbreaking consequences, 3) Everyone deserves and needs to be loved.

How you treat others does matter. There's the saying that "sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me". That could not be less true. What you say has the potential to make or break someone's day. Sometimes though, the absence of words can do just as much damage. When we ignore people, even unknowingly, it's painful. Making other things/people come before the person in front of you can devastate someone who may just need a friend at that time. Think right now if you were to be treated/talked to in the same manner you treat/talk to others... as some of do that, we may be getting a bit of a pit in our stomachs.

In youth ministry we can get in huge ruts that can have heartbreaking consequences. Ministering to youth, you are constantly surrounded by hurting kids, whether you know it or not. Middle school and high school are all about trying to find your place in the world and who you are and it could be the loneliest time of someone's life. In this movie, the youth pastor goes to talk to this kid with the question all youth leaders have said countless times, "What school do you go to?" - I don't know why but when he asked that question to the kid who would later commit suicide, it took my breath away. We ask the ice breaker questions, we play games, have fun music, and big events, but what does that accomplish if kids don't walk away feeling loved, challenged, encouraged, and poured into? The youth group in the movie had a blast with all the "extras" but then they were missing the meat - living their faith in school and even with people in the youth group. You hear all the time that the church is full of hypocrites, and that doesn't stop in the youth group but if we do our jobs right, it maybe could. I look at the youth group here that I kind of oversee now and honestly it makes me sick how much I've failed to "make the most of every opportunity", when it comes to these kids. I just pray that I'm not too late to minister to them the way that I should have been all along.

Everyone deserves and needs to be loved. One thing about Jesus that blows my mind is that He unconditionally loves EVERYONE. He ate with tax collectors, talked to adulteresses, ministered to prostitutes and dying thieves. Rich/poor, "sinner"/"saint", Gentile/Jew... He loved them all. Yet at school, our jobs, and even in our ministries we refrain from showing His love because, "well, they look scary", "they're too popular", "they're not popular enough", "we don't have anything in common"... that's ridiculous! Why do we in the church who profess to rejoice in Christ's unconditional love, refrain to show it to those who need it the most? Something needs to change. It's time for youth ministry to get back yo just that... ministry. Ministring selflessly, pouring ourselves out, overcoming awkwardness and excuses to show these kids tangibly the love that their Father has for them.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Another tough chapter

As I'm writing this, I'm sitting in my little apartment with my little tree and white lights listening to Christmas music after spending the evening watching a Christmas movie. Needless to say it's been a good night, but there is one looming element that I've failed to mention, I'm typing this one handed because my other hand is in a cast (so if there are some gnarly typos, just blame it on the cast). Now, you may be asking "Kelli, did't you like JUST get your other cast off?" And you would be right...it hasn't even been four months since I've been out of my cast that was on my foot. Six months ago I had a little retreat right after my birthday and I knew the upcoming year was going to be intense...I just had no idea how intense. Now after two casts, my grandma passing away, friends leaving, and a few other things, I can honestly say it's been the hardest six months of my life. I had mentioned that I went to Kenya a couple of weeks ago and while I was on that trip I seriously told people that I felt like another tough season was coming right as I felt I was finishing with this last one, and I must admit that has been confirmed in one huge way.

Now, you may be asking how I ended up with this newest cast...The other day, I was walking and trying to text (not a wise idea here in Uganda) and I didn't see a drainage ditch and fell pretty hard scraping up my hands and my knees, and as it turns out doing some damage on one of the tendons on my left thumb. Now, I get to be in a cast for at least the next two weeks.

I wish I could tell you that I'm "rejoicing always", "counting it all joy", etc... but honestly, I've very much struggled with having a good attitude through this latest trial. Believe me, I know God is using this to make me into the servant he desires me to be, but I've already caught myself saying "God. Seriously?!" And things continue to be coming up that are just adding to the difficulty of trying to not allow myself to wallow in self pity. I feel bad because my friends, family, and all of you who read this blog have heard me whine about this killer season of breaking and honestly, a lot of me doesn't even want to talk about it anymore because I figure people have enough on their plates than to hear me gripe about yet another hurdle, I guess though that's why I'm just putting it out here to just humbly ask for your prayers that I would glorify God even in the trials, especially with my attitude. Nights are the worst because the loneliness, helplessness, and hopelessness seems to get magnified exponentially.

So needless to say I need a lot of prayer right now: my focus, perseverance, attitude, for Him to increase my faith, to learn what I need to, and that during this Christmas season I would be reminded that life is not about me, but it's about Him.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Life...

“I was without happiness for this life, and without hope for the next.”


It’s funny how you could read all sorts of deep and intellectual books but then the simplest of statements are what stop you in your tracks. I’m reading an awesome book right now on the Cross and in it gave the above statement from a man who used to be an agnostic who then had gotten saved. It so simply yet powerfully stated what I know many (even some who are reading this right now) people feel right now. This, in a sentence, describes the unbeliever who doesn’t know the awesome thing that it is to have a true RELATIONSHIP with Christ.

If this sentence could describe you right now when you really look at your life, then I humbly ask you to surrender to Him and call upon Him as your Lord and Savior. He’s not some bully with a magnifying glass, He’s not some distant cosmic force that has no effect on our lives today, He is our God and our Savior who loved us enough to put skin on and be beaten and crucified to save us so we could be with Him.

This is a season filled with talk of trees, snow, presents, family gatherings, and many people have little or no relationship with the One who the season was originally meant to celebrate. This is a time that’s not just about the manger, but the cross, and even more so the empty tomb. He was born to die so we could have life.

I realize this post is a little (or a lot) on the “preachy” side... but you can blame it on my day job :). This is written from love and God breaking my heart for those who don’t truly know Him. It’s not from a judgmental, finger pointing view point merely a plea to whoever out there who may come upon this would desire to have the sentence that began this post to truly have the word “WAS” in it. In Him we can have joy, know HIs unconditional love and have that beautiful little word...hope.

Friday, December 10, 2010

A random pondering

Have you ever looked back at your life and it doesn’t seem like it was really your life? That those things never really happened? Those things, events, and people seem more like a dream rather than something that actually took place? That’s kind of what I’ve been feeling like lately as I look back at the chapters in my rather short 24 years of life. Thinking of birthday parties, field trips, vacations, surgeries, heart breaks, ministries, jobs, apartments, mission trips, classes, weddings, funerals, conversations, even friends… all of them individually seemed to be things that were earth shattering, life changing things but now I can barely remember any of the details. I guess that goes to show us that the things that seem that way are just small parts of who and what God uses to make us into the people He desires us to be. It helps to think that this life is not all there is. That eternity is so much more than what we get cards, presents, or coffee dates for. I’m so glad that I can have rest in the hope of something more than what I can touch, see, talk to is awaiting me after I’ve lived another 50 years or so (if He does not tarry).

Warren Weirsbe got it right when he said,
"The trials of life are not all alike; they are like variegated yarn that the weaver uses to make a beautiful rug. God arranges and mixes the colors of experiences of life . The final product is a beautiful thing for His glory."

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Seeing the light

Blogs are a funny thing… some people use them as somewhat of a newsletter, others a journal, and to for me it’s kind of a menagerie of synopsis of events, thoughts, struggles, etc… I haven’t written truly in some time, because well honestly, I have issues trying to make sense of everything in my own mind let alone trying to put it down to express it to others. I continue writing about seasons, storms, and the struggles I’ve been facing lately and honestly maybe some of why I’ve stopped writing is because nothing had really changed. The last blog that I posted with that poem couldn’t be more apropos considering what had comprised my existence as of late.

For those of you who are Bible teachers, you can understand when I say that everywhere I look, I tend to think in illustrations. I have just gotten back from a trip to Kenya and part of that time I was able to spend looking at the vast expanse of the Indian Ocean. And while doing so, I couldn’t help but think that the ocean was rather synonymous with my future. To me, the ocean is big, full of unexpected things, some of them beautiful, some of them that could cause you pain, and some beautiful things that also cause pain. It’s full of unknowns, you fear getting swept away, and being pulled under… but in the grand scheme of it all as you look at it, it’s breathtakingly beautiful. As I said, that’s basically my way to summarize my outlook on my future. I have absolutely no idea what God’s going to bring in this upcoming year. I know there will be things that hurt, but at the same time there will be things that make life a little more beautiful. I’m afraid that I’ll be swept away, but I also know that I have God’s promises of how He’s with me through it all and in the end I will hopefully be found, “perfect and complete lacking nothing”. And really, in the end, I know that when I look back on my life, if I allow God to be the one in control, it too will be a beautiful thing that God will use for His glory.

Another thing that I’ve come to understand continues along the lines of storms. It had been raining pretty non-stop these past couple of days, and it seriously was kind of a tangible depiction of what was going on in me, especially this week. But with the darkness and the rain, there’s also the reassurance that it won’t last forever and just as the clouds parted and the sunshine came through, the same thing happened with a majority of what’s been causing a lot of my pain lately.

Hopefully now, you’ll get to read a little more uplifting posts from me, but really I guess this is life. We all experience trials, heart break, confusion, and that’s no different when you’re on the mission field. Another thing that doesn’t change is that we have a heavenly Father who loves us, carries us, and as we’re getting battered by the storms, he’s there to clean us up. Last night in the middle of a rather sleepless night, I listened to a podcast and in the middle of it there was a quote about how God isn’t about pampering us, but about perfecting us and that doesn’t happen if you’re constantly on “calm seas”. Oh how I pray that I would remember the lessons He has taught me through this turbulent but precious time.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

An awesome little poem

Over these past couple of weeks, I've continued to be in a rather introspective mood, and there will be more posts detailing some of those thoughts and revelations, but for now, I'm going to give a quote that pretty much touches on some of what God's been teaching me:

As children bring their broken toys,
With tears for us to mend.
I brought my broken dreams to God
Because He was my friend.

But then instead of leaving Him
In peace to work alone,
i hung around and tried to help
With ways that were my own.

At last I snatched them back and cried,
"How can you be so slow?"
"My child," He said, "What could I do?
You never did let go."

Author Unknown

Monday, November 15, 2010

Opportunities

This morning, I finished the book of Ephesians in my quiet time. Paul ends this letter talking about Tychicus and how he will fill in the Ephesian believers on how and what Paul was doing as well as to encourage them and Paul continues to then briefly state his love again for those believers. Now, the way Paul concluded this letter got me thinking. Paul poured into who knows how many people and God provided countless opportunities for him to make disciples and he was faithful to take those opportunities and pour everything he had into those God brought to him. It made me think about the people God has blessed me with getting to see begin and grow in their walks with God. I've been able to see God take hold of lives, I've seen their worlds be rocked by how His word teaches, rebukes, corrects, and trains us... There are girls 8 years ago who I was able to see as little awkward 7th graders who are now discipling others. Today He still blows my mind about the girls He has brought even recently who I get to see hunger for growth and maturity in. The question I have to ask myself is am I as passionate about pouring into people as Paul was. Do I care about them even in the most trying times of my personal life? He was caring about them even while he was in prison, but I'll be honest and say when I'm going through struggles I'm not necessarily still putting them above myself. I don't know, I guess it just me thinking about how Paul talks about "making the most of every opportunity" and do I really do that? It can almost become more of a job then being passionate about making disciples... it's sad but on the mission field more than anywhere it can become very true. I'm just glad that God helped me to remember what it's about and what true discipleship should look like.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Jinja SS


So in Jinja, there's this secondary school (high school) that is considered to be one of (if not the) largest schools in East Africa. For a lot of last year I had been trying to get into that school to teach a Bible study, but to no avail. Then God just opened some awesome doors, and for almost this whole school year I've been able to meet with a group of students out in one of their grassy areas after school and just dive into our Bibles together. The group started out pretty small, maybe five kids or so... but this term, that number has grown. The average was beginning to be around 17 students meeting together as we studied through the book of Ecclesiastes. It was such an awesome opportunity because they even asked to meet more than once a week, so for this past term we've been meeting every Tuesday and Friday and a bulk of the kids come both times pretty consistently. I loved the mix of students...it was really actually pretty funny because out of the group of students about 3/4 of them were in S1 (kind of like freshmen) and then I had normally three guys from S6 (seniors) and not really anyone from any of the other grades. It's been awesome getting to pour into these guys...oh yeah, did I mention that they were all guys... as a big sister and warning them about the snares of life and the meaningless things we can get distracted by that amount to nothing when we don't have God in our lives. I was so blessed each and every time I was able to meet with them and I just look forward to next year (their school year is now over and they begin their new one in February) and what new opportunities God will bring with these guys!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Friendships

Over the past week, I've learned a thing or two about friendships... or I guess a better way to phrase that is that I've been more or less reminded of some things about friendships. Growing up, making friends just kind of happens. You share some of your Elmer's glue with someone on the first day of first grade and before you know it, you're still in contact with that person 18 years later. In the adult world, it's not that easy, or at least that's how it kind of seems. Now, I'm not talking about acquaintances but real friends...the good/the bad/ the ugly, the ones who will call you on things no one else will, the ones you can laugh and then cry with, the ones you can be really real with. I'm finding as life goes on and people get married, have kids, get jobs, etc... the dynamic changes, instead of the simple commonality of both needing some sort of adhesive for an art project, you gravitate towards the people who have the same passions, goals, and are in similar seasons of life with. And another thing about friendships... you don't really think about them a lot of times until you've lost one or faced a couple of bumps with one. It's been a tough week in the friendship arena for me, a time of reflection, a time of readjusting, and just a time of re-evaluating not only my friendships as they are currently, but also the type of friend I need/want to be. This has been a very selfish season in my life, and I just thank those friends who I was able to break down to, seek prayer from, laugh with, and just pour out my heart to as I've been processing all that's transpired over these past couple of months. I think overall, the biggest lesson I've learned is that it's very true what Solomon says in Ecclesiastes, "Two are better than one...if one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!" And I'm just so thankful for all those who have "helped me up" during this time.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Hidden Battle

Within the church, there's a hidden battle that few people really address or talk about but is still there in full force. I like to basically call it the Battle of the Truth, the funny thing is that you wouldn't think it would be something that was happening in the church but more with opposing world views and different religions. But if you were take a handful of Christians and poll them on certain issues and what their relationship with God was centered upon, I think you would be rather surprise at what you would find. Flipping through the channels of "Christian" TV these days you can find some awesome solid teachers, but sadly more often then not, those type of teachers are few and far between and what fills up the majority of the airwaves is what dictates most people's perception of Christianity; sadly enough it many times couldn't be further from the truth as to what Christianity really is supposed to be. These people emphasize that God's sole purpose is for you to be healthy and wealthy and it's honestly nauseating what they take out of context with Scripture. They talk of sewing "seeds" and fire ceremonies and miracle services, and it's just so sad because so many times I just want to ask them point blank, "Show me where in the Bible it teaches to do this thing". Did Peter ever hit someone on the head to heal them? Did Paul ever ask for a $100 faith seed that would guarantee the people a year's worth of prosperity? Did Jesus die on the cross so you could have a financial breakthrough? I guess the thing that gets me the most is that it's making it all about us, when it really should all be about HIM. It's not about what He's going to do for us, our relationship with Him shouldn't be dependent on emotion, our walk with God should be about HIS holiness, HIS goodness, HIS faithfulness, HIS justice, and as Ecclesiastes 5:7 says, standing in awe of God.

Now, you may be wondering what triggered this little soap box, well... Today I had the awesome opportunity to teach at the YMCA which is a vocational school here and during their morning devotion there are about 200 students in the room. I've taught there a couple of times before and every time it's just really cool to get to be a part of God working in that school. Well, today, I taught my passage that they give me ahead of time (which is a bit of challenge sometimes) and after I sat down, they said they had other visitors. So this lady gets up, and introduces herself and says that she's from the ministry of a very popular pastor in Uganda who was going to have a crusade in Jinja this week. As she kept talking, I seriously felt like I was in the middle of one of those teachings you see on TV, and she in turn was praising this man and the miracles he had done instead of praising God. After she finished, another guy got up and started yelling and saying a bunch of stuff and he concluded with having everyone raising their hands and him praying blessings for them especially that of financial breakthrough. It was so hard to be there because to much of what they said, I really just had to be careful not to show the reaction on my face. I sat there quietly and just tried to subtly make it clear that I was not in agreement with what he was saying. It's definitely a situation I had never been in before, but it was eye opening as to just how many people are living a life of self-serving Christianity and these "Pastors" are not looking to lead people in a deeper walk with Christ but to basically line their pockets and boost their egos. In 2 Timothy 4:3 says, "For a time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires they will gather around what their itching ears want to hear." That's definitely what I see more and more of as time goes on. But praise God for how HIS Word is sufficient and that it's not about us, that God's not someone we can command to do something, and that He's more than our finite little minds could ever begin to comprehend.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hurricane Season

Currently, it’s hurricane season in the States and funny enough I don’t think I can find any better example to what life’s been like than a hurricane. I have now written several posts consisting of the events of the past few months, the trials, struggles, etc… and how it’s just been a real time of breaking. It's seriously been like I've been tossing about in the waves for the past four months and as soon as I get a breath, another wave comes and engulfs me. To add to the list now, my grandma on my mom’s side passed away this morning. I wish I could say that I was ready for it, because she really has been sick for so long, but the pain is still there. It’s times like these when being 8,000 miles away is really a bummer. I wish so badly I could be there for my mom and the rest of my family through this time.




My Grandma Joyce, was one of the most independent women I knew. She could play the organ and piano better than anyone I’ve EVER met. As I grew up and was in high school, our once somewhat distant relationship got a whole lot closer. I remember I would just go to her house to randomly spend the night. I would have my own little routine of getting the pull out bed ready and just hanging out with her. We would play games like Skip-bo and make chocolate chip cake and eat macaroni and cheese. She’s the one who helped teach me how to drive and what the streets were. She even moved into my parent’s house after I moved out. Getting to make her laugh was seriously one of my most favorite things to do. She and I would get into awesome conversations/debates about the Bible and as she approached the end of her life, she I believe truly accepted Christ as her Savior. She has touched more people than she ever realized and will be greatly missed and I will always cherish the memories and the special relationship we were able to have.

Now, it's through these times of heartache and pain that I've got to cling to how he's with me through the calm and the storm and that he truly will never let me go. I've got to rejoice in the suffering and various trials knowing they produce endurance, but sometimes that's oh so hard to do! Praise God that just as Jesus was asleep on the boat during the storm and was able to calm the seas with a Word, He's more powerful than these waves that come crashing over and over again too.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Virrage...I mean Village


So every now and then I get to actually use my degree and one of those times was this past Thursday. We have a village church that was able to have a medical clinic. It used to be a fairly legit little clinic but there had been some problems with it lately, so bright and early Thursday morning (4:30am) Jess and I had coffee in hand ready to head out - although we didn't really leave until 5, it was still early! We (I mean Jess) drove for a couple hours only to incur a flat tire, but Jess was like a pit stop man and that tire was changed faster than I've ever seen it done before! Then we drove for a couple more hours and finally reached the village that was about an hour past Soroti. We first had to meet in the land's office where we had to start getting some things worked out. That in and of itself was an experience. Then we headed to the clinic to do a fun little audit. It was not nearly as long or painful as originally anticipated, but I got to spend some time doing inventory on the drugs and trying to figure out if they're really being honest about what they're doing with the meds. We then had a nice lunch at our village pastor's house and finally headed back to Jinja a little after 3. The drive back was quiet and just kind of a nice time to process things and lucky Jess was there to help me do that. Needless to say it was a total of 10 hours in the car and about 3 hours of "work", and when we finally got home after 8, we were exhausted, but it was still a nice time to just kind of get out of the "usual" and have a little adventure.

Monday, October 18, 2010

"But God..."

Throughout the Bible there is this beautiful little phrase, it consists of just six small letters, but they mean so much. The phrase "But God" has become one of my favorites throughout Scripture. After reading of some of the most difficult and impossible of circumstances, the most hopeless scenarios, and overwhelmingly pressing situations where it just seems like no good could come... you so often read these beautiful words, "But God". Throughout life, we face tough times, trying times, impossible times, "But God" is still the one in control, "But God" has His perfect plan, "But God" is bigger than any problem, enemy or situation, "But God" gives us the promise that nothing is impossible for Him. Even yesterday as I was dealing with the menagerie of trials that have comprised the past couple of weeks, God reminded me of this very thing. Yes, it may seem that at times my world is falling apart. Yes, I may feel totally out of control. Yes, I may not know how it will all work out... BUT GOD promises me that His ways are higher than my ways. BUT GOD says He will never leave me nor forsake me. BUT GOD says that He works all things out for the good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. These are simple things, but that does not make them any less true. And through the storms of this life, that's what I have to cling to with every bit of my being.

Friday, October 15, 2010

A trip to Karamoja



In Eastern Uganda, there's an area called Karamoja, and this happens to be the place where some really good friends of mine are beginning to do work. Being that I had just had a few crazy months, I thought it would be cool to head out that way and hang out with them for a few days. I didn't go there necessarily expecting a vacation, which was a good thing because it was definitely very far from what I got, but honestly I'm not complaining because I know what God had planned for me there was a lot more important than just some R&R. It's funny because so many people think of ministry being to people you're not really connected to, that you have to meet somewhere to discuss sometime or make an appointment for, but a lot of times the most important ministry just happens in the midst of life. God had me in Karamoja to do such ministry. My trip grew from being a week to ten days as the need for me to stay up there also grew. I had to grow up in a lot of ways dealing with things that I've never had to before. It was definitely a tough trip spiritually, emotionally, and physically, but it was perfect all the same. In the midst of the tough stuff, I was surrounded by some of the most breathtaking beauty that my eyes have ever beheld and was able to meet some people that I hope I will continue to be friends with for years to come. My life verse is definitely Isaiah 55:8,9, where it says "His ways are not our ways...". Even going to Karamoja, I had a lot of stuff on my mind, things I was unsure of and honestly felt rather confused and very alone in dealing with all that was pouring through my thoughts and prayers. I was thinking that it was going to be a time to kind of pray over a lot of those things and get more clarity, but instead of it being some "me time" it was still yet another opportunity for God to redirect my focus back to where it should be as I was offering counsel and seeking for wisdom in all the situations that were coming my way, He was helping me to understand things and mull things over in a way that I would never have done if it weren't for the events of my time up there. It's just funny thinking of just how much He knows what He's doing.

The trip was tough but it really was awesome! Getting to spend time with Ryan and his team mates, learning what it means to live the "village life", being surrounded by so much culture, and just really getting to have God's beauty all around me was amazing! It was a trip that will definitely be a memorial mark in my life of what God did, taught, and revealed to me.

"Trust Me"

For the past three months, I have had the opportunity to be stretched, broken, humbled, amazed, taught, rebuked, matured and exhausted beyond every sense of the word. Having Jess and Bev be in the States brought in a season of turmoil (for lack of a better word) that I never expected. Back at the beginning of this insane time, a pastor friend of mine informed me that this was going to be a season that was going to shape the rest of my life...if only I knew just how much. It's amazing to look back on all that's happened over this time. I had to say goodbye to so many people, have a broken foot, deal with some incredibly heavy ministry issues, as well as some stuff going on back in the States. It was seriously non-stop, and after each time of thinking that "ok, now that's over, things will be ok again" and then WHAM! But honestly though even looking back through the previous posts I've made during this time, it's amazing all that God's brought me through. I've forgotten a lot of the pain and despair I felt during a lot of those situations, even reading some of the most recent posts I've made I have to kind of remind myself what was happening that was making me cry out in such desperation. Things that we think are the end of the world, things that seem to be making life impossible, things that seem like you just simply can't take anymore, are now just things in the distant past that I've even forgotten about even though they were maybe just a couple of months or weeks ago. Even as I'm writing this, I'm still recovering from even more "episodes" of breaking and maturing that are even separate from what I would consider the season without Jess and Bev. And to kind of put the icing on the cake, I just took my last dose of Malaria medication because for the first time since I've been here, I finally got that super fun little sickness. Like I said, it's really just one thing after the other.

The thing is thought that God just knows us way too well and what we're struggling with and what we need to hear. He tends to teach me the most through when I teach others, and he did just that today. I got back from my trip to Karamoja (see other blog posts) and found out I had malaria, and today was the first time I really was able to get back to ministry. At Jinja SS, I have been teaching through the book of Ecclesiastes and today's passage was 3:1-8, the famous "Time for everything" passage. He reminded me and helped to realize that in all the ins and outs of life, God is still in control...the good and the bad. There's a set time for all that's been happening in my life and He's just having me go through this time to make me into the person He desires for me to be. I just have to continue reminding myself of that as I go through all this. It's funny because there are certain times when it's just like God is almost audibly telling me, "Just trust me", then I give some excuse or another thing I'm struggling with or unsure of and He just reiterates that over and over, "Just trust me". It's far from easy and I definitely don't have it down yet, but I'm just glad that He sends me little reminders in the midst of all the hurt, and chaos, and pain that it's for but a season and as one of my favorite quotes says, "If you want to see the rainbow, be prepared to endure the storm."

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A caffeine induced blogging escapade

So normally caffeine doesn't really phase me...it may or may not have to do with the fact that I pretty much drink straight espresso on a daily basis...but that's besides the point. Between the double macchiato, a very large to-do list, and a heavy heart due to some stuff happening back in the States, I decided what a better time than now to kind of process things via the ever so personal medium that we refer to as "a blog".

The last post I made was about the struggles of the weeks before. I wish that I could say that life got easier after that, but honestly, if anything, it got worse. It really did just seem like everything was falling apart and I don't know if I have ever been so close to just wanting to throw in the towel as I had been over these past two weeks. I could blame it on a variety of external factors that triggered all of the discouragement, but really, if I were to be brutally honest with myself, it was all self-inflicted. Now, I don't want to downplay the fact that there were other "forces" at work, but really I think the thing that got hit the hardest through all of this was my pride. I realized that the reason why I was struggling so much was because I was wanting to be "the golden child" and not for God's glory at all, but purely for mine. For people to be able to say, "Remember when Kelli had to run things, she did such an awesome job! It was the best furlough time EVER!" It wasn't for the good of the mission or the work of the ministry, it was because I wanted to add another notch to my belt of things I could do well. Even now, just typing it nauseates me. I never necessarily did anything flat out sinful on the outside, but on the inside...oh man! I would get easily frustrated, upset, etc... because people weren't seeing things my way or listening to me or respecting me (you like all those personal pronouns there?). I loved hearing "wow Kelli! You've got so much going on and you're doing such a great job"...I could just feel myself being blown up like one of those punching bag balloons... then the other day... that balloon popped...big time! I just thank God that I finally listened and allowed my eyes to be opened to how I'm not "God's gift to humanity", but honestly, a lot of times He uses me to test people's patience and grace even more than they test mine.

I'm reminded of how with teenagers they tend to act like they know everything but in reality they know nothing and they have a little bratty attitude about it all... yup that's been me. I've told people that I've been in a perpetual bad mood for the past three months, when really I've just been acting like a big brat to a lot of people. The taste of it all is just bitter and all I want to do is spit it out...I pray that I remember how nasty I feel right now and that whenever I think I'm "all that and a bag of chips", I better get ready. The Scripture of "take heed lest you fall" is definitely one that defines this season - you think you're above certain things, that you're the authority, that you're "too holy to do that", when really you're already walking right into that very sin you think you're above.

I guess the moral of the story is that I've been to the woodshed, and I pray that I learned my lesson, because this was not fun!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A tough few weeks

First off, you can always tell when I'm having a tough time by how rarely I write. I see that the last post I did was on the 4th, and it's crazy to think of all that's taken place since then. To begin with, I had to say goodbye to some really great friends! Judy and Malia left and then just under a week ago, I had to say goodbye to another good friend of mine, Jonah (he's the one who had broken his leg at the same time I broke my foot). Going through all the pains of goodbyes, especially with those who you may never see again can take their toll on your emotions for sure.

Along with the painful goodbyes and the personal struggles that have been happening. Ministry has also been tough. I've recently written about how there are these girls who live such terrible lives where they willfully choose to sin against God. Well, this week, I guess you could say that the prayers of "God, I don't know when or how I'm going to deal with these girls...", got answered. On Tuesday I had just said goodbye to Jonah and I had just gotten back from going and dropping Ryan and the Reeds at the half way point between where they live and Jinja, (so needless to say I was a little on the emotional side) and I had a counseling appointment. This girl came to me to tell me about how her cousin was living and how she had run away from home and so on and so forth. This girl's cousin has been coming to my Sunday afternoon Bible studies for the past two years, I knew there was something going on, but never had anything concrete about it...until now. We made the plan to do phase one of the confrontation process in dealing with sin, and so the girl and her cousin were to come and talk to me the next day. Well...on Wednesday, I waited for them to get to the church and the girl who I had been talking to found me and told me that they were on their way to come and meet with me when they were intercepted by a lady who lived near them who had had enough of what the cousin had been doing and started to beat the girl with a stick. So the girl and I hopped in the truck and ran down to where the girl was at, brought her, the girl's mom, and the lady who was beating her to the church. After about an hour and a half of talking, it was just cool because God totally was the one in control of the whole thing. The end result is that the girl has one last chance to prove herself and if she doesn't, then I'm taking her back to her mom in the village. As a way to provide some sort of control and accountability, I also now pick her up from home and take her to school and then pick her up from school so she won't have to flirt with temptation at those times....we'll see how this goes. I pray that she changes and starts to truly follow Christ, because it seriously breaks my heart knowing the life that she has been living and that she'll have to pay for that the rest of her life and if she doesn't change, she will have to pay for it for eternity as well.

Then while I was dealing with that, the names of two of my key guys were brought up as being part of that issue. So I had to talk to them as a sister in hopes that things wouldn't have to escalate to something more official.

Finally, last night, I was in the house and was informed that two girls had come to see me. I went out there and they said they needed to sit and talk about something. Their names had also been brought up while we were dealing with the first girl, and they started denying everything before I even had a chance to bring it up to them. I don't know the life they're living, but God does. They had come to try and bring accusations against another person, and it ended up with me giving them a very similar talk to what I had given the first girl and they were not expecting to have things go the way they did. But God was good and again He really just did the talking - I just was the vessel.

These things have been a long time coming. I've seriously struggled with not knowing what to do with these students for such a long time. It had always been rumors, but then it just kind of fell in my lap as to how to deal with it. In seeing these students living lives where they knew the right way to live, but instead lived to cater to the "flesh", I can now have new understanding about what our sin does to God. As I was counseling the first girl, one thing that really hit me hard what how she had welts all over her from where the other lady had been striking her with a small stick. I was able to tell her that the pain she went through with that beating was nothing compared to when Jesus was beaten to the point where the skin was ripped off of his back because of His love for her. It's really something that I will NEVER forget and I thank God for opening my eyes to the power of that example.

The book of 1 John talks about if you love God you will no longer choose a life of sin, I can point fingers at these girls all I want, but really, I need to examine my own life as well. The sin that these girls are involved with is just the same as when I know I'm not supposed to gossip or manipulate or have pride...and yet still pursue those things. As I told these girls, we are called to live pure, holy, blameless lives before Christ, ones where we are above reproach. Now as I'm telling these students that, I now need to practice what I preach.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

"Open Air Preaching"

In the book, "Lectures to my Students", Charles Spurgeon devotes two chapters to "open air preaching". I won't lie when I was reading through this book and as I crept closer and closer to these chapters, I was somewhat dreading them because it seemed like the subject matter would be a little on the dry side to say the least...but boy was I wrong! It's funny because in America, we don't really get or look for opportunities to do ministry outside of our church buildings or property. If anything, we do something like street witnessing which is all well and good, but if someone doesn't want to be asked the typical ice breaker questions of, "so where do you think you'll go if you die?" or "Have you ever stolen something?", you're kind of out of luck. Spurgeon says a lot of common sense sort of stuff, yet I think it's stuff we need to be reminded of in this day and age especially. He wrote, "Not only must something be done to evangelize the millions, but everything must be done, and perhaps amid variety of effort the best thing would be discovered, 'If by any means I may save some' must be our motto..." We get so caught in our box of, "This is how we do things" that I think there is a large some of people who miss out on hearing the Good News of what Christ went through because of His love for us. That's where my excitement with this open air preaching concept comes.

As I am in the midst of reading these chapters, it was decided that our youth group would go on location and do our normal youth service in a place called Loco. It's only a couple of blocks away from the church, but there are so many kids who live there who would not come to church and so it was awesome thinking of the 70+ kids who were there listening to the youth pastor, Richard, lay out the Gospel for them...but I think that almost even more that comes the thought of the people who maybe were just listening from their houses or passing by, and the seeds that could be planted with them as well. I've come to find that the seeds sown by "accident" sometimes produce the most fruit. So it was just so cool to play a VERY small part in getting to see the opportunities getting outside of our comfort zones can bring. Now, each month our goal is to do at least one event like this so that truly, "If by any means I (we) may save some".

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Another tough goodbye


When I first got to Uganda (two years ago today), Ryan had told me that there was someone named Judy who I was destined to become best friends with. Now, looking back on the past couple of years as our friendship has grown, it's very tough to think that I'm going to have to say goodbye to one awesome "big sister". She's been with me through the trials of life in Africa, finding who I am here, and just the drama that comes with being friends with a 24 year old. She's put up with so much from me and in five days I'm going to have to say goodbye to her as she and her daughter leave to return to America. This summer has been incredibly hard in the goodbye department and having Judy leave as the summer draws to a close just kind of bookends the tough goodbyes. I'm so thankful for the friend God has blessed me with and on top of that, He's brought an awesome little girl into Judy's life that has become one of our little family as well. I'm going to miss these girls so much, and I'm not sure how I'm going to be able to adjust to life without them, but I'm so excited to see what God has next for them as they embark on this new chapter of life back in the States.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A night of R&R

Yesterday morning I left bright and early for a little trip to Sipi Falls to meet up with Ryan and give him a couple of things he had been needing. I had been to the falls before, but yet again, it just took my breath away. It's so green and the mountains are just so awesome with the clouds and the waterfalls dotting the surface as you look at them from a distance. The place we stayed is the exact same place I had stayed before right after my birthday. This was cool because it served many important purposes: 1) allowed me to see my buddy, 2) allowed me to get away after an absolutely insane week, 3) helped celebrate my cast being off as well as my two year anniversary of being in Uganda (it's the 29th of this month). It was just just really cool to just escape and bask in God's absolutely amazing creation. It was funny because last night, we were watching a movie shot in Hawaii and I told Ryan, "Can you imagine living in a place like that!?" to which I realized a very similar landscape. It was just awesome being in that awesome place, getting to drink coffee, and not get any phone calls! It was 24 hours without responsibility and it was GLORIOUS!





Here's one anecdote from the trip that I think several of you might enjoy: So we went to this very little island in the middle of the river and sat down to put our feet in and just hang out. It was perfect because my foot was needing to be iced and that water was stinkin' cold! As we were sitting there I kept feeling something kind of poking me but I thought it was just a stick or something so I just kind of ignored it. Then Ryan noticed that on a rock in the river there was this cool little crab and I'm not joking, I totally said, "as long as he's over there he's cool". Pretty much right afte that, I felt the poking feeling and looked down and there was this angry crab was trying to pinch my leg!!!! I may or may not have freaked out pretty badly just because it was so unexpected, and as Ryan said, "Only I would get pinched by a crab in the middle Uganda"

Thursday, August 19, 2010

IT'S GONE!!!!

Hallelujah!!!! I am free indeed! After six of the most intense weeks of my life, my cast is finally off and I'm able to progress towards living a "normal" life. On Tuesday afternoon, I got the call from my "cast man" that I could come in bright and early on Wednesday morning to get my cast off. He was laughing at me because I was giddy I was so excited to finally get it off.

Here are a couple of pictures for you about the process. The first one is a view of the "exam room" where he does his work. It was funny because when I was trying to swing my leg around to the other side, half of the table collapsed.... The other picture is one of the super fancy job the kids in my life did on decorating this newest cast. And finally, the last one is of the special little saw they used to cut the cast away, that I mentioned in a previous post.







Thank you all for your prayers as I've gone through this time. I'm still not 100% yet, it's still very sore and swollen and I still have to walk with one crutch just to offset the weight a little bit, but it's beautiful to not be lugging that thing around. Being able to take a normal shower, to not have heart palpitations when it's raining, and to not hear "sorry" all the time when I walk down the street are just a couple of things I'm enjoying right now. I'll be honest though and say that although it was harder at times than words can express, I wouldn't take it back for anything. The lessons God taught me and the relationships that I have formed during this time are priceless and if I had to break my foot for these things to happen, then so be it.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sympathy pains


Being on crutches in Uganda is definitely something few people can truly relate to. Or come to think of it...most people I've talked to have said they've NEVER had to be on crutches before, some even have said they wished they could break their leg so they could experience crutches...ummm can you say CRAZY!? It's funny thinking of how few people have had the joy of experiencing the pain, inconvenience, feeling of uselessness and laziness that comes from being on these dreadful things, but God is good...and in the midst of my self pity, he brought someone to join the party. A friend of mine decided he'd be nice and break his leg about three weeks after I broke my foot, so needless to say, he gets to rock the crutches too. The only thing is that his crutches are metal and a whole heck of a lot bigger than mine. It was seriously just hilarious though having the two of us together in the same location, because here you really never see people on crutches. I appreciated the sympathy pains he is still having to endure...but I definitely have rubbed it in the poor guys face that I'm getting my cast off TOMORROW!!!!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Uganda 101

So here is a random lesson on a couple of things that are commonly seen here, that I kind of forget to tell people about:

1) This is our super sturdy construction. Amazingly enough, you don't hear of as many accidents of buildings collapsing on people as you might think.


2) This is one of our versions of a taxi - we call it a matatu. It's a white van with blue checkerboard around the sides. The only way they seem to work is if you cram about 5 more people in than the van is licensed for, and the driver dodges in and out of traffic, cutting off every possible person, honking his horn to make sure you know he's there, while the guy who works with him shouts out of the window, the next location, "Kampala, Kampala, Kampala!!!!!"

I think that may be enough to get you started, but be ready for more lessons... For the record, these things are just a part of life, but I was trying to kind of wrap my mind what it's like for someone who's never experienced Uganda before, but I really do LOVE this beautiful country!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Another fancy fancy




Being that it's time again for yet another holiday, it means that we are able to party it up with the youth group. Each holiday we try and do something with the kids - the longer holidays get bigger events, but being that this one is only two weeks, we just made it an afternoon event...and honestly, I don't know if I could have handled planning a big thing right now.

Tonight we had an event we refer to as a Fancy Fancy - a time where we play games, have a couple of presentations, a guest speaker, and then LOTS of food! The whole planning process began a little bit on the rocky side, and I wasn't too sure how it was all going to turn out, but I'm just reminded how it's so awesome that God's in control, otherwise I'd be in big trouble! We were able to get the event together, at least planning wise, but then today we had a nice little storm roll through at about one and we really weren't sure if it was going to happen. Praise the Lord though, the clouds parted, the sun came, and by four you couldn't even tell it had rained earlier.

Little by little the kids started to come...and it was just way too cool all the different kids who came! We had kids from all over Jinja come to this event, and it was just awesome to see how God had just totally and completely had His hand upon this event and who was there. By the time the teaching began, there were about 200 kids who had come. We played a couple of games (one of which I was able to have the kids hop on one foot and just try to get some sort of sick enjoyment out of people doing what has become my life). We then had a couple of presentations where a couple of groups sang, then a couple of worship songs, and then one of our SOM graduates taught. It was honestly a really good teaching, and pretty perfect for the group of students who were there. After that, we had the food...it's definitely a task trying to feed a couple hundred kids with rice, meat, cabbage, and juice, but we were able to do it. After all the food was eaten, and the dishes were washed, and the kids had mostly gone, the music was still going and so a spontaneous dance party broke out with a few of us and the kids who were around. It was a blast!

I am just amazed at how God showed Himself in this event! I could go into all the details of the prayers that were answered, but that would go on and on and honestly, unless you have planned an event for a group of high school students in East Africa, you probably could care less about some of these things - such as the prayer that we would be able to have electricity for the event - but just know God did an awesome job at blowing my mind tonight and Richard and I really just looked at each other, amazed at how God worked. To HIM be the glory.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Flying solo

It has now been about a month that I have been flying solo here on the compound as far as missionaries go when it comes to our staff. I won't lie, it's definitely been a challenge, and I am more than ready to relinquish the responsibility back to Bev and Jess when they get back. I've never doubted for a minute the intensity of their jobs or the stress of their positions, but now, I'm like "oh man!" Today was one of those days that I just took a moment with our staff before the day even really began and apologized in advance for what I may end up saying throughout the day just because it seemed like before I even "clocked in", I already had a line of people with questions and demands and patience definitely wasn't there.

It's funny though the lessons I've already learned as I've reached my 1/3 mark...oh man...still 2/3 of the time to go! Anyways... I really have learned a lot so far, things that I either took for granted or just was naive about or just had never had to deal with. I now know that when people have to be admitted into the hospital, they need: bed sheets, a pillow, a basin, a container of drinking water, a mat for their attendant to sleep on, and some money for food (that's not including what they'll need to pay for the medications in what is supposed to be a FREE hospital...but that's besides the point). I've learned how rediculously much gas costs here. I've learned about paperwork needed for work permits. And honestly the list could go on and on. It's definitely been the school of hard knocks, but it's time that I learned this stuff especially since my time here in Uganda is not ending any time soon. But all that to say, PLEASE pray for me that I would be able to manage the next two months, that I'd have wisdom in my leadership, and that I would rest in God and not allow how overwhelmed I may sometimes be to interfere with the tasks God has truly called me to. He knew I would be having to deal with this very hectic time at this point in life...more specifically with one leg which adds a whole other element to things. I'm just so thankful that we have a staff who is full of people I can trust and turn to, and who understands and even can encourage me on days like today when it just seems like too much.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Girl's night on the town



I've had several people ask me in the course of my time here in Uganda, "Kelli, what do you do here for fun?" And I honestly don't have a whole lot to give them. Jinja's a fairly chill town where if you're not doing the "tourist" thing, you're really not going to find a whole lot to do. Well...tonight my friend, Rochelle, and I found something to do with an event I've decided to call "Rochelle and Kelli's Rolex Adventure". I've noticed that when she and I put our heads together, we can come up with some pretty crazy ideas, and tonight was no different. We were both thinking about maybe having Rolex (a chapatti with something like a Spanish omelet rolled inside of it) for dinner, this idea somehow evolved into a plan where we would go to several Rolex making stands in an attempt to find the best rolex in Jinja. So at about 5:45, we hit the town, two girls on a mission. As we started to realize just how many Rolex stands there were, we decided to limit our Rolex number to 5, and that it was going to be much bigger than a one week ordeal. So we began at the far end of main street and bought this glorious food we call a Rolex from 5 different vendors, being sure to take copious notes about the preparation, ingredients, packaging, the price and then we numbered them and brought them all back to the house and with our respective carbonated beverages began to be quite possibly, the world's very first Rolex critics. It was awesome! We were laughing about just how comical the whole situation was, and what Rolex snobs we were now going to be. But the good thing is, we get to do this again next week, and hopefully in the end find the BEST rolex in Jinja.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The hardships of ministry

For those of you who don't know - pretty much from when I first got here, I've had a Bible study on Sunday afternoons for the high school aged girls. Being that I used to have my life immersed in ministry to the high school girls in the States, I thought this would be the perfect fit and that it would honestly be just like it was in the States...boy was I wrong. The ministry to these girls has been one battle after another. I've prayed for them, written them letters of encouragement/tough love, washed their feet, taken them to the hospital, etc... yet they still choose to buck against me - but that's not the hardest part... more than that, their reputation and lifestyle is tainting the name of our church and more importantly, the name of Christ. Yesterday, I had some of my girls who are not of that persuasion at the Bible study, and they were talking in a round about way about the other girls and their reputations and what they do with their time. It used to make me angry, but honestly...God has definitely made it where now I just hurt for them. They are flat out rejecting His love, mercy, and grace. They have been involved in the church scene for years, they have heard countless teachings on the ways they should live, and yet they make the decision to go against it. They're all under 20, but they're doing things that will ruin the rest of their lives, and more importantly if they don't repent...follow them into eternity.

This being said, this morning in my quiet time, as I am now going through 2 Corinthians, I was in chapter 6 and Paul talks of all he and his comrades have gone through and how they have poured out their hearts to and for the Corinthians, yet the Corinthians were not reciprocating. As I read from vs. 1-11, I couldn't help but have the girls in my mind. I won't lie, I love reading what guys like Paul and Peter have to say because if they had to suffer the hardships of ministry, why should I be surprised that I have to as well. Paul was...well, Paul, and yet he had people turn up their nose at him, make up rumors about him, say that he lacked grace, and that he was in it for money, and so on and so forth. The thing is though, Paul never stopped loving them, never stopped trying, never stopped desiring to see them live the life God had called them to, and that's what I need to persevere in. Sometimes the fruit is overflowing in ministry, but sometimes it seems like a famine, but that never means we should stop striving and praying and persevering as we show that un-conditional love that we are called to display. Oh, if only I can remember this vital lesson in the life of ministry!

I knew it!!!!!

So, I'm going to preface this blog with a warning that this may sound somewhat cynical and rather un-P.C., but please don't judge...

So about two weeks ago a certain man came onto our compound and asked to speak to me. This was in the midst of me not wanting to do a whole lot as I was still acclimating to crutch life, and therefore I tried to get him to either: a) go away or b) tell one of my guys what he wanted - neither of which worked. So I went out there and little did I know what sort of door I was opening and what I was getting myself into. Now, being a missionary, one of the things that comes with the territory is the menagerie of people coming seeking your "assistance" with their "problems", and so you get to have a rather nice time trying to figure out not only which "problems" you can help with, but you also have to make a snap judgement on whether or not these people are legit or just really good con-men. That being said...I come out prepared to hear what this guy has to say. He begins to tell me that his name is Musana John and he goes on with a rather lengthy story about the sort of "problem" he is having and about how we have assisted him before and so on and so forth. Then he makes the pitch of how much money he would like for me to "assist" him with. Now, being that I'm a rookie at making these kinds of decisions, I told him we could help him with half of what he was asking for and that I would ask Jess and Bev and if they said yes, I'd help him with the other half the next day. Now, you know those times when you have those little bells going off in your head, but you just try to ignore them thinking that you're just too calloused and cynical and "what if this guy really does need help?", well...that was me at this point. After he left, I wrote Bev who responded to the e-mail urgently saying "DON'T GIVE HIM ANYTHING!" I then learned in a whirlwind that he's been conning missionaries for years and he was just now coming back onto the scene. Looking back, I really should have seen the signs: 1) the legitimacy of a story is directly proportionate to its length of delivery (the longer the story, the leass likely it's true), 2) How many times he repeated himself, 3) how unsettled he got when I said I couldn't give him all the money, but would have to check. Needless to say...I KNEW IT!

Now, if I hadn't learned that lesson enough. Today while I was teaching the kids, this guy came up and said he had something he wanted to discuss with me and made sure to emphasize how urgent it was. After I finished that Bible study, I talked to him and again, he gave me this big long story about his "problem" and how Uganda has not been good to him. He was also asking for transport back to his village. I again had that same little bell going off, but decided to check with JB about it. JB said we had experience with him in the past and that he wasn't necessarily honest but had apparently changed, so we gave him just enough to get some food. The signs for this guy were: 1) the length of the story, 2) the stress of urgency, and 3) the fact that he never removed his sunglasses. Tonight as I was talking to some friends, I heard about how he had been to their house too and is a well-known con-man in Jinja. I just couldn't believe that I kind of got played again! Again...I KNEW IT!!!!

Anyways, the purpose of this blog (at least in my mind) is to let you know about the good, the bad, and the ugly aspects of life here, and well... this is something we have to deal with on a fairly regular basis. I just ask that you pray for me specifically to have wisdom during the remaining two months that I'm getting to make these decisions and that I would have mercy, grace, and compassion with the right people but also be able to discern which people are "bad ju ju".

Friday, August 6, 2010

Casts a la Uganda

I forget about how different things are here, and so I thought I'd document the events of todays re-casting, you know..."just for fun". So Sam, or "the cast man" as I like to call him is pretty much it in the town of Jinja for putting casts on people, he works at about four different places and runs around town basically all day doing so. Here, doctor appointments don't really happen, you just kind of drop in and hope for the best. Yesterday I called the clinic and asked for them to let me know when the cast man arrived, but of course they forgot so I was able to talk to him on the phone to see what time today he'd be around, to which he said 9:30 am. I reach the clinic at 9:30 this morning, kind of check in with the receptionist and she just tells me to go and wait in Sam's room, where I continue to wait for about twenty minutes. Sam comes in, asks how things are going, tells me it's going to be another two weeks but that I could get another cast that was more suitable to begin to kind of walk on, and then procedes to cut the cast off. Now my friends, the tools he used to remove my cast...well let's just say they were not what they'd use in the States. He had this little hand saw looking thing and then this plain open razor blade, I was really just waiting to hear those dreaded words of "oops!" and see my somehow white cast turn a shade of red, but it's all good and I still have all of my toes. After removing the cast I was able to see how gnarly my foot still looked and realized I really did need to have it in a cast two more weeks. And then sends me to go and get an x-ray.

Now, along with appointments, medical charts are also not really something we believe in here. Instead your orders are written on little sheets of paper that you get to keep with you along with things like your x-rays even when you go home. They also like to write the orders in these little notebooks that kids use for school. Anyways...Sam writes on a little piece of paper what x-rays he wants, and I gather my stuff, including my old x rays, and head to another time of waiting. As I was heading there, Sam informed me that the x-ray man "was not around" so I knew some really good solid waiting time was ahead. He also told me just to "flash" him (call him, let it ring a couple times and then hang up) when the x-rays are finished and he'd come back from another hospital he was going to do some work at. There are already people waiting around in the one little corner by the x-ray room that has shade, so I sat on a curb (no waiting room here) in the sun...a little vitamin D is good for you. Finally, x-ray man comes, re-organizes us so I get to sit on a wooden bench in the shade and then he begins to see us. After waiting about 45 more minutes, it was my turn. You go in there, give him your slip of paper, he closes the big metal door, you hop on the table with the x ray plate under the area to be checked, he makes sure to handle the area that's injured as roughly as physically possible, and then is in the room while the x-ray is being taken. You then head out and do some more what?...waiting. After some time, you see him coming out with an x-ray dripping with x-ray solution and he hangs it on a special x-ray film clothes line to dry for "some few minutes".

After he brought me my x ray, I called Sam only to get no answer, I waited in his room, and about 45 minutes after that, he comes, bringing some rolls of gauze and plaster in his back pack. As I assist him in opening the packages of plaster (which is not the light weight, fancy colored stuff, but just the white kind), he brings in a bucket (yes a bucket) or warm water. He then procedes to put on my new cast smoothing everything out rather nicely. Then he takes this funny block sort of thing and procedes to plaster it to the bottom of my foot. Come to find out, that's the closest to a "walking cast" I'm going to get. So needless to say, three and a half hours after I got there, I was able to walk out of there with a new white, skinnier cast, with a kind of growth on the bottom...Gotta love it!

Weight bearing

In the world of orthopedics (bones) you hear the terms "Non-weight-bearing", "partial-weight-bearing", and "full weight-bearing". Now for those of you who have been ever so blessed not to be receiving those special instructions, this may not mean as much to you as it does to those of us who have seen those very important words written on some sort of medical order. Not that it's a real pickle to know what these terms mean, but just in case you don't know - it's referring to how much weight you can put on the certain area in question. So basically non-weight-bearing equates to "it's bad ju ju if you even fall on that bad boy", partial weight is -" it's not so bad ju ju to put weight on it and even try to walk on it a little bit with the help of crutches", and then the glorious full weight bearing means "you've waited six weeks, now it's time to put this bad boy to the test". Today I was able to have my orders change from the "non" to the "partial" and honestly that's such a beautiful thing! I got a new smaller cast with a ghetto little block on the bottom so that I can put weight on my foot without putting weight necessarily directly on the break. I'm now able to not have to be so ginger in my maneuvering or have heart palpitations at the idea of wet surfaces knowing that they all but mean inevitable doom for my walking security. I've now had my very "special" cast for a month, and this new one is to last me the final two, and then hopefully I can have FREEDOM!!!


Now, as one who frequently get opportunities to teach, that therefore necessitates that I find good illustrations, introductions, etc...on a fairly frequent basis Needless to say, as a teacher you begin to think of the events of life in illustration format: "ooh! this could be used to teach this, and that, etc.." With this idea of weight bearing in mind, I can't help but think that in our spiritual lives, there are times when God breaks us as he is giving us lessons, helping the bone grow so to speak, and sometimes we need to give it time to set. After some time, when you've finally started to get a grasp on what He's trying to teach you or change in you, there comes the next time where you kind of begin to slowly test it out - as they say "a faith that's not tested can't be trusted". The time of "partial weight bearing" is a time where you actually encourage the bone to grow even stronger, it's that little bit of resistance and pressure that makes it what it needs to be. Spiritually speaking, the times when God is trying to let us test what we've learned, he gives us new opportunities to do so, encouraging us to grow in the areas He's working in. Finally, there is the time when you're kind of set out on your own - you really show what you're made of, if it's really what it needs to be. The cool thing is that if you look at an x-ray after a break has healed, many times it's stronger than the other areas around it because of that new growth. During this time of "breaking" in my life, I would love to be able to look back later - after all the different levels of restoration, testing, and healing and see that I'm stronger than I was before this time. Now, you can also talk to people and hear about when bones didn't heal properly and they had to be re-broken, talk about a party?...NOT! The real trick is to make sure that you listen to the lessons or else you're going to be hurting later and this time of pain will have to happen all over again.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Families

Families are a funny thing if you think about it... most of the time when we think of a family we think of the one consisting of parents and their offspring. When you think of families in that sense, you find people who come from awesome families and others who come from not so awesome families. As I have mentioned before, I come from seriously the most amazing family I know - I realize I'm a little biased, but some people really may not be able to say such things about their family (A side note is that this may be fresh in my mind because I just finished skyping with my family after about a month of not really talking to them). But really, as amazing as my biological family is, I've come to realize that family is so much more than just some people who share a similar genetic makeup, they're the people you love and care about, the people you would do almost anything for, the people who you turn to when you're in trouble. When I look at that definition of family, it makes me think of not only my ABQ family, but my family here in Uganda. Last night we had a birthday party for Peace and Moses (two of our staff members children) and it was just so awesome gathering together with some of our staff members and their kids, all of the laughter, the jokes, getting to have the kids hang on me and joke around with me... it was definitely one of those times I wish that I could have captured, but I know will just have to be stored away as a memory I hope I won't forget. The dynamic we have here on this compound truly is that of a family. I've known that, but I was reminded of that after my fun experience on Monday with the tire (see previous posts). Having JB so concerned and so quick to come to help me, the concern of the others who knew what had happened, and then even with my cast - I have their true sympathy for me during this time, where it really is something they feel for me about and truly pray for me for. I guess what I want to just say is that God has blessed me with not just one amazing family but several. And whenever I think that I'm all alone in the world, I just need to remember these awesome people he has placed in my life in such an awesome way!

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Jinja missionary COMMUNITY

Every first Sunday of the month, we have what we call Missionary Fellowship. This is a time every month where missionaries from all sorts of walks of life, denominations, and ministries can come together for some worship, a short teaching, and then a pot luck. Last month, they asked for any volunteers for the next month's fellowship, and people were just joking to say that I should volunteer, but I decided that was an ok idea...I mean one more thing on my plate isn't that hard right? Then the next day I broke my foot, and that idea didn't seem too great anymore. Well...last night was the first Sunday and with Judy and Rochelle really doing the work, we were able to pull it off. And oh my sweet goodness...was it an event! We had over thirty people in our little living room. It was awesome! We had a one of our missionaries' daughters play worship (she's ten and did an awesome job!), we had another missionary do a teaching that convicted a lot of us, and then a lot of really good food. There was a constant sound of people talking and I'm just so excited it was a success!!!! I love it when the body comes together for the purpose of what we're really supposed to do - build one another up and encourage each other in the ministries God has called us to. If only this little microcosm of a healthy body would be something believers all over the world can emulate, just think of what the Church could do!

I hate Mondays (well at least this one)

Today I drove with Ryan to a town called Mbale which is the half way point between Jinja and where he lives in Karamoja. He had been in town for the weekend for a friend's wedding and it was awesome having him back so soon, of course that kind of re-opened some of the wounds that had barely scabbed over from when he left but it was still great. Over the weekend, I didn't try to think about that today would bring me saying goodbye to him for probably six weeks this time. Even today when we said goodbye it was less emotional because I really didn't allow myself to think about the true reality.

After I said goodbye and drove out of town (just FYI, we have an automatic car that I can drive with my broken foot), I was just listening to music and as the reality began to dawn on me, I began to break down. Then, as I was trying to recover from that, it all of a sudden sounded like the windows were opened, and I look in the mirror to see my back left tire flapping. Yeah, my tire didn't just go flat, it seriously exploded. God was so good though and I didn't roll over, and God just kept me really calm. I pulled over and considering I was on crutches and couldn't really do anything anyway, I immediately called in my go-to man, JB. I was told that as soon as he got the call, he grabbed Davis (one of my other awesome go-to guys) and they drove the 45 minutes to come and rescue me. After I waited in the car for them to arrive, I was able to see the damage, and JB told the truth when he said that I was very lucky that I didn't get hurt. God definitely protected me on that one and answered some serious prayers.





Now, as I was driving on the way there, I realized that it has been one month ago (four weeks) since I broke my foot, it's also been two months to the day that I had my birthday and I knew that I was embarking on one crazy year. I just can't believe what all has happened over these past two months. It's just been way too crazy for words to just wrap my mind around just how much has happened, the pain, the struggles, the lessons, and it's only been two months... It's just seeming like it's one thing is coming right after the other. I'm exhausted in every sense of the word but also encouraged that in the midst of days like today that seem to go as bad as possible, God is still faithful to have His hand on every situation. But I'll admit my flesh definitely says "I hate Mondays".

Friday, July 23, 2010

The God of ALL comfort

In 2 Corinthians 1, Paul describes God as the "God of ALL comfort". Now...I won't lie, I've enjoyed this verse before but in this season of life, it seems to have slipped my mind what it really means. Isn't it funny how that happens? You know verses and you know the promises but to actually put them into practice is a whole other ball game. I think for me, I'll be honest when I say that in a weird way I guess sometimes I don't want to be comforted...yet at the same time I want it with all of my being. I don't know if you could chalk it up to the martyr mentality or just say it's for attention sake. I guess the lesson of the day is that I need to allow myself to be comforted - the challenges of life are not going to change (broken foot, Ryan gone, Jess and Bev gone, and now I have a cold) - so I need to look to God to comfort me in ALL of these things so that I can be used by Him in the ways He wants to instead of living in a perpetual pity party.

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