Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The numbers game

Today I had the awesome opportunity to teach at Jinja SS, which is the largest secondary school (high school) here in Jinja. The only kicker is that there were only six students who came to the study. It's funny because at the beginning of the study I was pretty discouraged, but I was reminded of such an awesome truth as I was teaching: Jesus was able to change the world with 12 guys, if these six kids are totally poured into and their passion to grow in their walk is nurtured, then there's no telling what they could do in their school, home, town, or even Uganda. Just another lesson to be reminded of this week.

Monday, June 28, 2010

A full moon and bull horns

So because most of my posts lately have been of a rather somber nature, I figure I should lighten up the mood a little bit. Two nights ago as Ryan and his two teammates prepared to head out on their trip, there was one thing on the to-do list that I was able to be a part of: putting Ankole cattle horns on the front of their vehicle. The project began after eight and we didn't finish until about midnight, but we had such an awesome time, people who could overhear us were talking about how we never stopped laughing. The evening consisted of Jess and Jean (one of Ryan's co-workers) actually knowing what to do, then Ryan, Tom (Ryan's other co-worker), and myself were basically there for comedic relief. It was hilarious seeing just how little we three knew about how do the task at hand. We were making jokes about everything and I can only imagine what Jess and Jean were thinking. I of course was probably the worst of us all because I didn't even realize what a bushing was, I may or may not have thought that they were talking about a literal bush that they were needing to help mount the horns...I'm pathetic, I know, and after that incident I was pretty much given the very prestigious task of being the flash light holder . Needless to say though that working in the light of the full moon and laughing with everyone, helped to take the edge off of the obvious difficulty that would be coming as the three of them head out for their new aventure into Karamoja. I'm blessed to work with such hard-core people both on the Jinja side and those who will be moving to Karamoja. I just feel so privileged to be so young yet get a first hand look at what it means to be totally sold out for Christ.

Beautifully Broken

So as my previous post indicated, this season of life is very easily the most difficult season I think I've had to go through, with the one possibility of the time when I moved to Africa. But moving to Africa was different, because I had difficulty due to how I was bucking against God's will and had a rebellious heart, this time it's not so much a sin issue and being chastised, but it's more one of those times of being sifted. I've seriously been so unbelievably broken this past week, and just down right depressed.

The catalyst for this difficult season is having one of my best friends moving to a different part of Uganda. He's been a vital part of my life since I moved here and we seriously have done everything together. Now that he's moving, it's seriously rocking my world in ways that I didn't expect. On top of that, I have the other people who I'm closest to either planning on moving or going back to the States for a short period, but they're leaving nonetheless. Yesterday, Ryan left for his vision trip to Karamoja. He's going to be gone for five days and then after he gets back he and his team will tie up a couple of things here on the Jinja side and then set out there for good. Because I know after he gets back his mindset will be totally changed and focused on leaving, yesterday was pretty much saying goodbye to how things used to be. As we said goodbye and then as he pulled out of the drive way, I'm surprised the breaking in my heart didn't make some sort of audible sound. I had to go to my house and I just sobbed, I know it's not pretty, but it's the truth. The rest of the day I was just so exhausted, I couldn't smile, and I had no appetite. I was in bed by 9:30 and just dreading what the rest of the week may hold as the loneliness crept into my heart and I seriously was having almost an anxiety attack as I laid in my bed thinking about him and everyone else leaving.

This morning I woke up to the terrible feeling that accompanied the remembrance of him being gone. The hunger was still not there and I wasn't sure if I could be a functioning member of society. I began my quiet time with just the cry that God would teach me this week and that the pain would not be in vain and that the lessons He would teach me would be so rich that it takes some people years or even a life time to learn them. Part of my morning routine is to try to make my way through the Bible in a year, but I've been kind of slacking in that area lately, but it's funny because God was even in that. I opened up my Bible to find where I had left off, and it "just so happened" to be in 1 Kings 19. This is the famous chapter about Elijah and how he had run from Jezebel after his victory at Mount Carmel. I had known and loved and related to this story before, but never to the raw extent that I did today. God seriously just met me in such a real way and it was absolutely awesome!

God began dealing with Elijah with saying how Elijah should wake up and eat because the journey ahead was going to be a difficult one - God knows this next season that I'm at the cusp of is going to be incredibly difficult, but He's called me to take of His spiritual food in order for me to have the strength to endure through it. God could have spoken to Elijah then and there to tell him what to do, but he had Elijah travel 40 days to reach the mountain - God could just try and tell me what He wants me to learn right now, but there's some tenderizing that needs to be done in order for me to really soak up and be sensitive to the lessons He'll be teaching me throughout and at the end of this whole thing. He also just asks Elijah, "What are you doing here Elijah?" and Elijah responded with how rejected and alone he felt - This morning God was basically asking me that same question, "What are you doing here Kelli?", and I had been giving him the same response of feeling alone. After God asked Elijah that question the first time, after the wind, the earthquake, and the fire, God spoke to him through that gentle whisper - God was speaking to my heart with that whisper this morning, those words of instruction, comfort, and encouragement to endure. Then God informed Elijah that he's not alone at all but there are people God has raised up to help in his cause and that there were 7,000 people who were still loyal to him - I'm not really alone, God has placed other awesome people in my life in order to take care of me and be His hands and voice during this trying time, I just have to remember that and be thankful that I have them around. Even just people sending me e-mails from around the world encouraging me through this time has proven just how not alone I really am.

After I finished reading that chapter, I was absolutely astounded at just how much God had met me where I was at and ministered to my heart. I felt a tangible weight being lifted off of my heart and it was a lot like after David's son that he had with Bathsheba died because of their sin. After the baby died, David got up and washed up and ate food because God's answer had come. After that time this morning, I was able to get up, go to the gym, and jump back into ministry.

The moral of the story is that His mercies truly are new every morning and although the sorrow may last for the night, the joy comes in the morning. I know that I will struggle, mourn, and face pain during this season, but it's these lessons that God taught me today that I just need to cling to with all of my might and give me the strength for the journey. Whoever says we don't have a real, personal, loving God needs to just have a little convo with me because He is truly an awesome God!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A cloudy night

So before I really get into this post, I feel I should inform you about a couple of things about me: 1) I find the greatest joy to just look at the night sky and 2) I'm pretty much broken right now and very much emotionally exhausted. This is not the time to tell you what all has been going on in life lately, just know it's been a daily battle and that there are times when I haven't felt more alone. Oh wow! Even just typing that, I realize that's probably a little too deep for a blog post, but if you know me at all, you know that's how I roll. The funny thing is that I'm probably more transparent through this blog than I am even in person. Here, I don't have to respond to blank stares or the knowledge of the 50,000 more important things going on in the person's life who I'm trying to share with, so please just bare with me and do with this what you will.

Now with that little bit of background, today was probably one of my most emotionally low days I've had in recent memory. I seriously broke in a way that I have never broken before. There are a lot of things that are happening right now that are happening at the same exact time, and I'll admit I just don't quite know how to deal with all of it. It's been one of those times of being in a valley so to speak, where I've even tried to seek comfort/encouragement/ and even rebuke from various resources and for some reason, it just wasn't coming. I mean I know the verses, people have prayed for me, I am trying to hold onto God's promises of how He'll never leave me nor forsake me and how there's nowhere I can go that He's not there with me. I totally know those things, but it's another thing to actually live those things out and just trust in Him through it all, even when you don't "feel" like you're close to Him.

After an emotionally draining afternoon, we had an awesome dinner with the Jinja and ABQ crew and I just wish I was in a better frame of mind to really enjoy it. Coming home tonight, I just had to put on some music and knew I needed to just seek God more on how to try to make it through this time. I finally had the lightbulb go off of going outside to spend some time just seeking Him from there to try and get the right "perspective" on things. Well, I bundled up and put on some bug spray and went outside to chill on the benches on our church veranda - which just happens to be about 5 feet away from my porch. I went outside to find that there were no stars because there were clouds covering the entire sky, but there was still a full moon. So I still just laid down and just cried out to God acknowledging just how far I felt from Him and just how desperately I needed him to be with me through this time.

Well, as I was just kind of waiting for some sort of answer, although I didn't really realize that's what I was doing, I looked up into the sky I was watching the clouds move and sometimes they would cover the moon. And it was just so crazy because it was like God was just so clearly speaking to my heart saying "Kelli, you see how those clouds come and cover the moon, but then they move away and you can see the moon again? Well, that's what this season is for you, 'this too shall pass' just like those clouds. Sometimes those clouds hang around for a short time, other times they stick around and almost hide the moon entirely, but they're still moving and just wait a few minutes and they'll go away." That's exactly what I needed to hear, knowing that this won't last forever, it's temporary and more importantly, God has His plan in when and why He brings those "clouds". I still have bloodshot eyes and know that the tears will most likely continue to flow over the coming weeks, but just that comfort he gave me looking into that sky, gives me the hope that I need to endure through these various trials with the hopes that at the end of this summer, I will be closer to being "perfect and complete lacking nothing".
This was written by a 23 year old school teacher back in the early 1900's. I'll be honest when I say that I can connect with this on more than a couple of levels and she puts it a lot better than I ever could.

So send I you to labor unrewarded, to serve unpaid, unloved, unsought, unknown, to bear rebuke, to suffer scorn and scoffing—So send I you to toil for me alone.
So send I you to bind the bruised and broken, o’er wand’ring souls to work, to weep, to wake, to bear the burdens of a world a-weary—So send I you to suffer for My sake.
So send I you to loneliness and longing, with heart a-hung-’ring for the loved and known, forsaking home and kindred, friend and dear one—So send I you to know my love alone.
So send I you to leave your life’s ambition, to die to dear desire, self-will resign, to labor long and love where men revile you—So send I you to lose your life in Mine.
So send I you to hearts made hard by hatred, to eyes made blind because they will not see, to spend—tho it be blood—to spend and spare not—So send I you to taste of Calvary. “As the Father hath sent Me, so send I you.”

Monday, June 21, 2010

An answered prayer

Last week, there was a team working in Jinja and part of their team consisted of medical personell so they had medical clinics throughout the week and I had the privilege to help out with these clinics. It was nice to have a little change of pace from the usual routine of life here, but I'll admit, doing those clinics was heart wrenching work. There were countless kids that looked like the kids you would see on the "Save the Children" commercials, kids with HIV, starving, Malaria, and the list goes on...

There was one case though that really got to those of us who were working. We held a clinic at a prison that is across the lake and there we tended to the medical needs of both prisoners, guards, and the families of the guards. This one lady came into the clinic and was seen by one of the nurses. Afterwards, the nurse was crying and we came to find out that the baby was a week old and had a ridiculously high fever and had the signs of meningitis. The doctor who was there made sure the baby was rushed to the hospital and we were able to arrange for the baby to get the proper medical care in town. After people all over the world praying for that baby boy, we got the word that he was actually recovering and that he did not have meningitis but was still going to die most likely that day if he hadn't gotten the treatment. Today, that little baby was discharged from the hospital and was able to go home. And before he and his mom went home they came by the church so I could see them. It was too cool seeing that little boy as he was fairly alert considering he was a week old, and feeling his little head without that blazing fever, and we found out that he has been eating.

I can't help but think that God has one special plan for Derek, considering just how well He orchestrated everything in order to ensure his survival. Now, I just ask for prayers for him to continue to grow as they are very concerned about his weight, and also for his family. His father refused to seek medical care for him before we came and has six other children with women other than Derek's mom and therefore does not treat Derek or his mom very well. It's awesome though to know just how much God can work through this crazy hard situation, that He does hear our prayers, and that He truly is the great physician!

This picture is of Derek on my veranda after being released from the hospital. The think in his hand is so that his mom can give him antibiotics from home. He's so tiny, but God loves him even before he's done anything to earn that love - we truly have such an awesome God!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Lord of the Flies

I find it funny that sometimes the coolest things we learn, we so frequently forget to share with others. I read how the apostles speak of how they can't help but proclaim the things they have seen and heard, and then I just allow some of the biggest lessons God is teaching me to slip my mind. One of the coolest things I've read lately that God has actually brought to light in a couple of books I use to study from is how in 2 Kings 1, it talks about how King Ahaziah asked his men to go and inquire of Baal-Zebub - and most believe this is adapted into the name Beelzebub which is used in the New Testament that is synonymous with the name Satan. Well, the kind of cool thing that a couple of commentators have pointed out was that supposedly this Baal-Zebub was symbolized by a fly although I don't ask me why (sorry, couldn't resist). If you look at what flies really do, they basically drive us absolutely crazy and distract us. They distract us from a conversation, meal, etc... Now to think that's really one of Satan's key attack mechanisms - distraction. He can't really touch us, but he can render us ineffective and try to send as many distractions our way as to get us away from what God has really called us to. How guilty I am of falling for his ploys in this area especially! Anyways, I guess it's the conviction that I have pertaining to this that caused me to take such notice, and the fact that God had it stand out to me on more than one occasion, can kind of cause one to wonder if He's maybe trying to teach me something about it...hahaha...hmmm...

Just let it go

So ever since I came back from Sipi Falls, I've definitely been on heightened alert for things in my life that I wouldn't mind changing. I'm pretty sure, aside from the various sinful attitudes I have, one of the biggest things that I feel God is trying to drill into me is that I just basically need to lighten up. I'm always so tightly wound, and let's be honest, if I'm like this now, I'm pretty much going to die of a heart attack by the time I'm thirty because of how I blow stuff out of proportion and just take things way more seriously than I should. There have been various things God has sent my way in order to test this lesson out, and I'm going to be honest with how I've pretty much failed every single one of those tests with flying colors. Sometimes I like to write it off as a personality trait, but really I need to have joy and stop holding so tightly onto things. Even now I try to put it into the not "sin" category, but let's call it what it is...a lot of times it is that nasty little three lettered word. It's sin when you don't trust God and allow yourself to take on the martyr mentality, it's sin when you gossip about others who don't live up to your "standards", it's sin to stress out to the point that you snap at people, it's sin to allow the work to over shadow the "better thing". Oh if only I could remember that! And really it's all just summed up in another nasty word: pride. Oh what a wretch I am, but thankful that I have His Spirit living in me and the promise that He is faithful to complete the good thing he began in me. I guess it's a good thing God is one for "tough cases" because sometimes I just don't think I'll ever really get it.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

“Seeking his face”

Well, as I have previously mentioned, it’s been a bit of a doozy this past month and a half and honestly looking at the next four months or so things don’t look like they’re going to get a whole lot easier. On top of that, my birthday was marked by some of my closest friends leaving. But honestly, right now I’m getting pretty stoked to see how God is going to rock my face off through it all. He even has already begun to chisel away some things and open my eyes to things He is desiring to see change in me.

On the eve of my birthday, I read Psalm 24 because I had heard of a good friend of mine who likes to read the Psalm that corresponds to her birthday. Psalm 24 is what the song “Give us clean hands” is written about. It’s about living blamelessly before God and seeking His face. I can’t help but think that’s going to be the theme for the next year - truly seeking HIS face. I know I should be doing that every day of every year, but to really make that the desire of my heart for this year specifically. To see and know Him. 1 Corinthians 8:3 says how we love God because we are known by him. Our relationship with God is based off of a mutual transparency, if I’m real with God about myself, He will show me more of who He is in return, and I think that’s just too cool for words to even think about what that really means.

Now, as I was able to get away on my mini vacation, that’s really what I hope to do - spend this time seeking Him. Spending this time like Elijah did beside the Brook at Cherinth where it really was just him and God as God equipped him and broke him so that he would be ready for the next things that were coming his way. Oh how I pray that I will be able to look back at this year as kind a “12 stones” year so to speak (those who have read the book of Joshua hopefully you know what I mean). That 24 would be a landmark year in maturing to whole new levels in my walk making leaps and bounds in the pursuit to be holy as He is holy. God only knows what this year will hold...

24...and it begins

So the birthday festivities began on Sunday. After having the incredibly hard goodbyes, one of my friends took me and another one of our friends whose birthday was the week before mine to stay at a little hotel just about 2 miles from our compound. There was a beautiful little pool and we rocked some delicious pizza and just hung out. It was awesome, although I feel bad that I was kind of a kill joy because of what had transpired earlier that day. Then on Monday, we hung around at the pool some more and then on our way back to the church, I decided to stop and get a massage to try and further decompress from both the goodbyes and the children’s outreach. And for about twelve dollars for an hour long massage, can you blame me?

Then on Tuesday, it was like my birthday had just continued, because Bev made fajitas for me. In case you didn’t know, the fajitas we make hear are my #1 favorite meal. Not only did Bev rock the fajitas, but Ryan also slaved away in the kitchen making lasagna so that it would be ready for my real birthday.

By the time my actual birthday rolled around on Wednesday, I was already feeling pretty loved and it only got better with the numerous text messages, phone calls, e-mails, and the insane amount of facebook well-wishers. The day was really low key and honestly, it was perfect. I woke up and had my usual morning routine of coffee and quiet time, and then Ryan and I went to the gym. From there we went to Ozzie’s which is one like the “town diner” so to speak amongst the missionary community. I got hooked up with an awesome breakfast and as Ryan so lovingly put it in a way only a big brother could, “You ate more than I’ve ever seen you eat before!” But if you can’t have a cinnamon roll, eggs, hashbrowns, and a little bacon on your birthday...then life is just sad! From there I traversed across Main Street to the Source Cafe for one of their amazing iced latte’s and spend some nice time with good ol’e C.H. Spurgeon. And after spending some time there, I continued in the consuming of beverages and went to Flavours to try their pina colada mango smoothie and got several new books to read on my iPod - you know adding to my collection of my “old dead guys”.

It was then time to head home where I was able to just chill on my veranda and take in the beautiful day. Then it was time for service, and it was awesome because since it was the first Wednesday of the month, we had communion (more on that and my birthday in another post). After church it was party time! Judy and Rochelle decked out my chair in balloons and had two Alvaro Passion’s (my favorite soda) waiting for me at my seat. We had Ryan’s amazing lasagna and garlic bread and I honestly didn’t think life could get a whole lot better. Then it was time for the cake...and man oh man. It was layers of chocolate goodness decorated in M&M’s and it was just awesome! After taking cake to our staff and their families, I cam back and opened presents. Let me just say that I have amazing friends...well, they’re more than friends...they’re another family to me and I’m so blessed to have them while I do.

It really was such an amazing birthday and it still hasn’t finished. I was basically forced to take some time away for a couple of days and so I’m at Sipi Falls, where it’s super cool and rather rustic. I have my own little bungalow that all it has is a huge bed that is sitting on a bed frame made of stone and my door is open (it’s got a top and bottom) and I have two HUGE waterfalls right outside. It’s been awesome to just have the quiet and read and I’m stoked to have the whole day tomorrow to just hang out with God in His amazing creation. Talk about an awesome birthday!!!!

The R.A.C.E

So due to some issues with a previous plan we had to reach out to the kids of our community, Jess came up with the idea to do a race day for a kids outreach. We started the planning process about a month or two ago, but because of other events (i.e. the youth conference), planning didn’t really happen until about the week and a half before the actual event. I’ll be honest when I admit that I wasn’t 100% invested in this event because I was just so drained from the conference not to mention all the other internal battles waging within me. But we planned, we bought supplies, we made ribbons, we mapped out the course, we put out fliers, and made radio advertisements and before we knew it, the event was upon us. Of course I switched into full gear a little late in the game and ended up spending a sleepless night the night before getting things the way that I normally do before big events. By 8:00 in the morning the tents were up, the course was marked, the sound equipment was set up, and our start and finish signs were posted. One thing I can’t quite get into my head is the idea of time here and how it’s different from my idea of time and therefore most of our volunteers arrived AFTER the kids did. I had done my usual planning, but really, absolutely NOTHING went according to plan as far as volunteer line up, how the races would go down, etc... but it was truly a miracle with how the races actually almost finished on time. I had my key guys who really reminded my of Gideon’s army after God siphoned the weaker ones out - I had about 8 guys (and a couple girls who really came through and I basically used them for everything because you would never realize just how hard it is to try and explain some of the positions to people whose second language is English. And the bottom line is that all those kids heard the Gospel and about 50 of them seemed to respond to the invitation to receive Christ into their heart.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

23 - it was a very good year

I won't lie, when I think about the fact that I'm only just now about turn 24 (in about 15 minutes), I'm pretty much amazed at what God has done in my life up to this point. Even just in this past year it's been amazing all that has taken place. I've gotten stretched in so many ways and given responsibilities that I'm pretty sure technically shouldn't have been given to someone of my age. I kind of feel like the kid who accidentally got put in the "gifted" or smart kid class -where you really didn't deserve to be there, but because of it you were able to grow more than you would have being in the class that you "belonged". I know that's kind of a funny illustration, but you know that's how I roll.

To write out everything would seem like I was bragging, but I'm seriously just in awe that it all has happened in just one year and seriously to God be ALL the glory, honor, and praise. I thank God for how He has helped me to grow through these different situations, and although they have been harder to go through than words can ever describe, I wouldn't have changed a single thing from this past year.

Now as I embark on this 24th year of my life - 24 seems so "adult" in my mind - I can't help but wonder what this year is going to hold. Already, there are several struggles and "growing opportunities" that I know are coming, and I just kind of wonder if that's supposed to be a clue about how the rest of the year is going to be. I know there will be several new seasons beginning in my life both personally and ministry wise, but through those changes, I rejoice in the fact that our God NEVER changes, He is more faithful that words can say, and the word that He keeps opening my eyes to in reference to Him is the Rock. During this next year, I'll probably need to hold on to that rock for dear life, because I'm pretty sure it's going to be one wild and crazy ride. 24...ready or not here I come!


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