Monday, February 28, 2011

No words...

How do you tell someone their sister or best friend has died? How can you comfort a mom who just lost her precious adopted daughter? What do you say to a church family who was already in grieving that they have suffered yet another loss...and this person you won't get to visit on a road trip?

Last night while my cheeks were still wet with tears from the thought of Aryanna having moved away, I got a call from Bev telling me that "we lost Nazziwa". I couldn't believe it, I still can't. The tears come but then I keep thinking this isn't really happening, that maybe this is a dream. Ryan and I jumped in the truck for a silent drive to the clinic while Jess and Bev took another vehicle in order to transport everyone, including little miss Nazziwa. I'll never forget going into that hospital room and seeing her mom in such sorrow over the loss of her precious daughter. I'll never forget sitting on the floor and crying with my "family". And I'll never forget seeing how the church showed itself to be a body as they stepped up to care for this mom and deal with the loss of our Nazziwa. It reminds me of the white blood cells, that when something goes wrong or there's an injury, they go into over drive...that's our church. Even right now, we have guys who slept on the benches in the church in order to be around for this time. I spent last night holding Nazziwa's adoptive mother and just laying next to her while she slept. I've never seen someone in that much grief. Another first is I've never had to tell someone that they love has passed away... I had to do that twice in the past 8 hours and both times to kids. I mean really...what do you say? Again... there's just no words.

The key comfort we have is knowing that our girl is no longer in the pain that she used to be in. But our hearts still ache and grieve. I can still hear her little laugh, her exasperated little pleas of "K..e..l...l..i.." when either I or someone else was tickling her. Oh how I miss that baby girl!!!!!


Pain...many times we identify with it the most when it's the physical kind...but more than a broken bone or cut or a scrape or sickness, the pain that seems to be the worst is when it's your heart that hurts. As I'm writing this, I'm wishing I could convey to whoever may be out there reading this the pain that's in my heart right now. Our poor compound family has had a really tough weekend. And we're all pretty much at a loss of how hard things have been over the past couple of days. Don't get me wrong, we know God is sovereign and knows what He's doing, but the fact that it's all happening at once is pretty killer.

The first thing that we're dealing with is finally saying goodbye to JB and his family. Over the past couple of weeks his three oldest kids have already gone because of school, but it was JB, his wife Grace, and the two smallest ones - Aryanna and Zoph - who left us this weekend. We had a party for JB on Saturday that I think went really well and I hope that family felt the love that we all have for them. Then yesterday afternoon we all were a part of the massive load up of everything to be moved. Then by 6:30 JB headed out to his new home in Pajule while his wife and babies waited until this afternoon to go because they were able to ride with a missionary instead of on a moving truck. Hearing JB teach his last sermon and saying goodbye to our "Baba" was so hard as he has been a constant on this compound for so long.

I was very close to JB and Grace, but it was their 3 1/2 year old, Aryanna, whose leaving is really doing me in right now. See, a thing I commonly tell people is that "I don't believe in small children", I know that sounds terrible, but I just don't handle them very well and basically treat every kid like they're 30. Ever since I came here 2 1/2 years ago, Aryanna has been the exception to that. You can ask anyone, that little girl is so unbelievably bright! She and I would have more intelligent conversations than I have with some adults :). She is precious and jam packed with awesome personality. She and I would both refer to each other as one another's best friends. I seriously would tell people that my best friend is a 3 year old, we seriously have such a special bond. She was my buddy to run errands with and just hang around with. I loved getting to yell up to her, "Baby Gallow!" and hear her precious little voice from upstairs go, "Yes!?" And then to hear her say, "Kelli, Kelli, Kelli..." in that same voice. She had the best manners and I could seriously go on and on about that kid. This morning as I was having my quiet time I started to hear her singing from upstairs and I went up there and she said how she had been looking for me. We ended up spending pretty much the whole day together after that. We read books, painted nails, colored, and just hung out. I was actually surprised that I kept it together that whole time (to God be all the glory on that one!). Finally, when it came time to say goodbye to her I broke... crouching down and telling her how much I loved her and asking her my favorite question of "who loves you?" and her response every time is "Kelli". Oh man... the pain.

To add to that already deep pain, my other girl who is yet another one of those one in a billion kinds of kids, Nazziwa, has been in the hospital for two days. This morning while I was with Aryanna I was informed that she may not make it. Her fever was just too high and she was showing no real improvement after a night full of treatment and her whole body was stiff. This little girl is seriously the strongest most amazing kid you'll ever meet. She's struggled her whole life with pain and sickness, she experiences pain that none of us could dream of bearing. She is 9 (her 10th birthday is on Wednesday) and her little arms are seriously as big as two of my fingers. She's got fire though and you can see her fighting when you see her in the hospital. She's doing better tonight than she was this morning but it's still touch and go. Knowing that girl could be going Home causes yet another element of the pain that was already in my heart.

I'll admit it's a challenge right now to not get overwhelmed by the pain and the questions as to "why?". It's hard not to have the knee-jerk reaction of just putting up a very big wall and keep myself from getting close to anyone. It's hard remembering God's promises of His faithfulness in times when you can do absolutely nothing to help the feelings of pain and loneliness. It's hard to remember that this too shall pass and that this is just bringing me into a closer relationship with Christ. I guess that's where I need to lean on that one big promise that "Even when we are faithless, He is faithful". But I'll be the first to tell you... it hurts and if this was all going down and I didn't have His promises and even the hope of how He's in control, I don't think I could deal with this... seriously... At least I can remember that He sees the tears, hears the prayers, and knows the pain.

Friday, February 25, 2011

What a day!

Well, for the past couple of days I have been feeling rather tired and I guess the best way to describe it is "off". You know when you just feel like something's wrong. Well, being that I was a rather tired individual, last night I desperately wanted a good night of sleep as I knew today and the rest of the weekend would be a bit of a doozy. But, as luck would have it, last night I couldn't sleep at all. I woke up this morning anticipating a long day ahead but little did I know just how long. We have a saying here in Uganda that basically "nothing's ever easy" and that could define the day. First I went to breakfast and the eggs weren't there so we waited for those to come for a while. Then while waiting I thought I'd go to this one shop that was on my to-do list for the day and they weren't open. Then I went to where you get your driving permit and waited for over an hour and even during that they had to keep re-doing everything and let's just say the people there weren't in a very good mood. Then... I went to lunch at a friend's house and it was then that I started to feel like I was run over by a school bus. I went into town to get tested for Malaria and it turns out that I was positive. Went to run to the grocery store and at the police station they were getting for the onset of another riot so we got out of there. Came back home and watched a movie, and now it's go time with setting up for saying goodbye to JB and his family and the timing couldn't be more "perfect" for me feeling the way that I do.

I've been dreading this weekend for months (even years). Ever since I heard JB was planning on moving back home to plant a church in his village, I knew the day for goodbyes would come. I just can't believer the day is almost upon us. Tomorrow afternoon, we're having a huge shin-dig to say goodbye to JB and his family and to celebrate the past 13 years they have been a part of this church family. And it just so happens that I'm slotted to be the MC, so needless to say having Malaria doesn't quite fit in with the "plan".

To describe Malaria to you all who have never experienced this glorious little parasite, let me try to explain it to you. You're living life, and then you start to get really tired, you feel a head ache you don't normally have, and you kind of have aches and pains off and on, and then one day it's like "WHAM!". All of a sudden you feel like you've been flattened to the ground with a fever, your stomach in knots, and you can't think straight. (Of course all of this depends on how advanced it is). Needless to say, that's how I feel now. And as the medication makes its way through my body and poisons those nasty little things the feeling gets worse before it gets better.

The thing I have to remind myself of through all of this, is that none of this is taking God by surprise. It's not like He's saying "Oh no! Not Malaria! Not now!!!" He knows what's going down, He knows how much of a struggle I'm already having with this upcoming weekend, and He knows how this Malaria is going to hit me. I guess I just have to figure out how much I should be resting and also just how much I should be kind of dying to self so to speak and suck it up for this weekend as I know we're all having a tough time and have a whole lot to do. Boy oh boy... I guess it's true, it really never is easy. But at least I serve a God who knows it all and can handle it all and that in my weakness, His strength can truly show.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Elections: The Day After

Well, after another quiet night, we all were a bit stir crazy and so Bev, Kathy, and I braved the streets and went to the gym. There was life on the streets and it was't too "wild westesque". People were starting to open shops up again and get back to work. I went over to a friend's house who lives near by in order to get over a little bit of the cabin fever which actually isn't nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. It's nice to kind of get back to life.

Because the polls indicate that our current president has a MASSIVE lead over all of his opponents combined, most anticipate the fall out won't be too bad in the coming days or at least that's what we hope. On the news, it shows that the two key "other" candidates for president aren't going to go down without a fight, and so come tomorrow night at 5, the calm we've been experiencing may get shaken up a little bit. You see, at 5 tomorrow is when the results will be officially announced and when that happens who knows what'll take place. The good thing is that the region that Jinja is in is typically one where people don't like to get too excited over things, and so let's hope that's the case. But we still ask for prayers now not only for us but for the people especially in Kampala, Uganda's capital, as the potential for violence there is exponentially greater than it is here no matter really who wins. I know this is a funny prayer request, but rain here pretty much paralyzes things and so if it rains tomorrow night, that could severely dampen the probability for bad ju ju to go down... so needless to say, you might want to pray for rain (plus it's just way too hot here these days anyway). Thank you all for your prayers, and know they're being answered more than you realize.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Elections: The Day Of

Well, I couldn’t get to sleep last night until around 2, I guess just because I was kind of psyching myself out a little bit. This morning, and really the whole day for the most part, was really eerily quiet. It was kind of like everyone was holding their breath. I was able to start my day as usual with my coffee and my quiet time. Then made some pancakes and got started on a rather productive little shut in day. I did some serious spring cleaning in my house which I haven’t done but needed to for a long time. I was also able to bake some cookies, watch some TV a la iTunes, and watch a couple of movies. Hey, if life gives ya lemons... It’s so weird because we’re here and it’s not like a lot of chaos has really ensued in Jinja. Our staff who went out to vote said that it was so calm and that nobody was out. Bev and I were talking today about how Jinja seems to be the perfect place to be as it’s big enough to have a military presence to keep the peace, but we’re small enough that things are containable.

In the midst of the other things I did today, we sporadically had on the news station. To try and convey what the news is like here… well, there aren’t words. To have the news anchor not be able to get numbers right or to hear cell phones constantly going off makes watching the news rather entertaining. As the results begin to come in though, things could get more interesting, but for now prayers are being answered BIG TIME. It’s absolutely amazing how calm it’s been, let’s just pray it continues this way.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Elections: The Day Before

So right now, I'm sitting in the guest room of Jess and Bev's house enjoying the fact that we still have electricity, internet, and our phones are still calling out. There may be a couple of questions going through your mind right now regarding that sentence and I'll try to explain:

1) Why am I at Jess and Bev's? - Tomorrow is election day. Campaigning in Uganda, especially on the last day before votes are made involve some candidates being so kind as to give out free beer in order to "encourage" voting for them. The potential for mayhem is there, and due to me being a very big chicken and knowing that even if I hear a "normal" noise I will most likely freak out, I'm camping out here.

2) Why would the internet/phones/electricity not be working? - In order to try and curb some of the plans of people who would like to cause trouble we were warned that all of those things could go out before the elections.

Now, this is the day before elections and I thought I would try and do my best to convey to you all who are not in the lovely "Pearl of Africa" what all unfolds with this potentially rather intense time in Uganda's history. For months (even in some cases years) most conversations centered around the elections as the country would vote again for various offices, but especially for the president. Our current president has been in office for 25 years and many people are desiring change, although in my opinion none of his opposition would be successful in bringing that even if they did win. Because he's been in office so long, and the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia have just gone down, there is a lot of talk of that to happen here, although Uganda is a lot more stable than either of those countries.

One thing that our president is very good at doing is launching the military in full force to the more largely populated areas so that riots don't start. A week ago, we heard a couple of very large booms, looked out and after a little delay saw flares that were shot up into the sky. We found out the next day that they were from the military basically announcing their presence in Jinja and to warn people not to try anything. We see trucks of soldiers and lines of soldiers marching down the streets, and you can't help but be in awe over the organization of it all. Tomorrow, as Ugandans go to the polls, they have a tough decision to make 1) does their vote even really count since there have been allegations in previous elections that votes aren't accurately counted, 2) Who is the best man for the job and 3) Who would be the one to win that would bring the country the least amount of unrest in the days/weeks/months following.

In order to take caution for what could happen, businesses are shut down, schools are closed, and people are even going on lock-down in their homes/compounds. And we're actually taking the lock-down approach as well. At lunch, we sent our employees home and by seven our gate was locked. Tomorrow the gate will remained lock for the day. None of us (unless our staff goes to vote) are allowed to leave the compound, and that may continue into Saturday and even potentially after that depending on how everything goes down. Everyone's basically stocked up on food and supplies, has escape routs planned, and is making the most of time to communicate with people so they don't worry.

I'm not informing everyone of these things to make you think that we're in a war-zone with bullets flying by, because right now it's literally silent outside of my window. I'm just asking that you all would lift our little country (which is the size of Oregon) into prayer. A lot of chaos could come from this election if people react in their pride and anger. Please pray for peaceful and fair elections, for our country to accept whatever the results may be, and that even after the elections the losers wouldn't try to stir up any problems. This is definitely going to be interesting and I'll do my best to keep everyone posted.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


One of the most common things I get made fun of for is the fact that I never really complete sentences. Many times I communicate what I'm trying to say and there may not have been a subject, verb, or conjunction but somehow people know what I mean and then I just spice it up even more when I add in various sound effects. Now, I'm normally bad at doing this just in everyday situations, but when I get really excited about something, it's hyped up to a whole new level. That's what pretty much went down tonight.

My afternoon was progressing rather nicely as I decided to finally bite the bullet and start reading the book of Ezekiel to prepare for youth group in a couple of weeks. This book is always one that made me cringe as I looked at it as the huge speed bump that kept me from finishing the Old Testament, but this time it was different. As I began to read even in chapter one I seriously was just astounded at the way God's glory is described (or attempted to be described). Looking at the different symbolism of what each thing means about God's character and just the power and the lightening, and! Now, I was already tripping out over that and being in awe of it all, when we had our mid-week Bible study in the book of Revelation. And it "just so happens" that the passage taught was Revelation 4:2-11. Oh my fling flangin goodness!!!!! If you were to take Ezekiel 1 and Revelation 4, you'd be in shock, then to put in a dash of Isaiah 6, and you're officially on your way into overload about realizing just a little bit more how awesome our God truly is. One thing that you see and that I learned about today was how if you look at it all, it's about Him being at the center of it all. And the passage from Revelation really drives home the "throne" and it's God who's on it, not me. We read about how Moses desired to see God's glory and yet only could see the back of Him because you can't see God and live, you read about how we're going to get heavenly bodies so that we can handle His awesome glory. But we take His glory so lightly, we take everything about Him too lightly. Our God is not the "big man upstairs", He's not our "homeboy". He is God Almighty, Creator, Savior, Holy, Loving, Awesome, Jealous, Merciful, and the list goes on.... If only we all (me included) get a better grasp on the God we serve and realize even if it's just a little bit more how awesome He really is then that far surpasses anything any amount of money can by.

My friends, we serve one AMAZING God. Is He on the throne of your life? Is He at the center of your life? Or is He just an after thought or a supporting roll in the "Me show"? He's awesome and He needs to and deserves to be the one in whom we "live and move and have our being".

Monday, February 14, 2011

Confession time

Clumsy - 1) Awkward in movement or handling of things, 2) done awkwardly or without skill or elegance

Ok, now that you have the official definition, you are now able to take the rest of this in context. I'm so much officially the clumsiest person I know. I mean it's not even funny (well, to the people around me it might be, but to me it's not). One of my all time favorite movies is Hitch with Will Smith because of how clumsy Albert is just rings true in my life so much! Even the people who watch it while in the same room as me frequently say statements like "Hey Kelli, he's like you!" The fact of the matter is no matter how hard I try, I always end up dropping, spilling, or making a mess of something, and that's not to mention the whole injury factor. I really do try to be careful, like really really try, but even then stuff just happens.

Today I was getting in touch with my creative side and I started out doing alright, but by the end of the time I was covered in oil paint (I even got some on my face and computer - don't ask how that happened because I don't know). I then had to call in my trusty WD-40 to come to my rescue and I'm good now. But then even while I was making our ascari (night guard)'s tea tonight (this was pre-WD-40) - I had fingerprints everywhere, spilled the water and milk and I hope I cleaned it all up (I think I did). And that was just the events of one night! Ughh! Sometimes I seriously don't know what to do with myself, I seriously fit the definition of "clumsy" to a T. I guess I just can send this out as a warning that if you don't want to have something broken, spilled, or a mess to be made then I'm probably not the right person for the job. I guess it's just another one of my many "quirks" that God uses to humble me, but man oh man is it annoying sometimes!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A holding pattern

When I was little and making countless flights to LA for doctors appointments, I distinctly remember one time when we were getting fairly close to our final destination, when low and behold the captain gets on the speaker and says "Ladies and gentlemen, due to delays on the runway, we will need to circle the area until we have a place to land". Now even though the flight to LA was just a mere hour and a half, and an extra half an hour wasn't going to kill me, it was the whole expectation of finally reaching my destination that was hurt with that little announcement. Oh, and just for added fun, the location we were flying in circles over was Death Valley...hmmm...

Now, it is that very story that I can most clearly explain how I kind of see life right now: a holding pattern, flying in circles, so close yet so far. You think that you see light at the end of the tunnel, that the sun is peeking through the clouds, and then you come to realize the light was a train or the sun was just merely the eye of the storm. I kind of keep expecting this season of pruning to finish at some point but just when I think it's almost over the "Captain" pulls up and we're off again going through yet another turbulent season. Right now, I'm honestly so exhausted I can hardly move, I feel like in my little drama queen mind that the weight of the world is on my shoulders (even though I know that's a slight exaggeration). It's funny though because during this time, I'm realizing how much more raw my prayer life is, how much more real God's promises are, and how much more I am witnessing God's hand work in my life even if it's just someone randomly giving me an awesome hug and they had no idea just how much I needed it, but God did.

All in all, this season of flying in circles is exhausting but I rejoice in how much God continues to reveal to me through it. God is truly good...all the time.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A little history

So... today I was having coffee with a friend of mine, and I was kind of giving her a bit of my testimony and she thanked me for sharing it with her. I was thinking about how there's a big part of my testimony that I kind of keep under wraps or don't go into too much detail about, but think that it may be about time to at least shed a little light on some of how God has gotten a hold of me. Mainly in the physical aspect.

For people who have seen me for any period of time will most likely notice I either walk on my toe or walk with somewhat of a limp and it's that limp (and the circumstances surrounding it), that has been probably THE number one thing that God has used in my life to bring me to who I am today. You see, when I was born it ended up that my entire left side was shorter than my right side or in some way smaller - left eye, left hand, arm, leg, foot... I know saying this, y'all will probably take too much notice of those differences but hey, I need to learn how to embrace what God's done in me. Well, when I was one and trying to walk, I just couldn't (haha, I guess not a lot has changed now that I think about it :)) and so my parents brought me to the doctor and my left leg was significantly shorter than my right. So they got my little baby shoes and put a lift on the left one and I was able to be a "normal" kid. But little by little the difference got more and more significant and before long my "case" was referred to the Shriner's Hospital in Los Angeles. I have awesome memories of partaking in Southwest Airlines, being picked up by the little guys in white suits and getting in the van and either going to the hotel or hospital with either my mama or daddy depending on who was able to go that time. Those visits continued and when I was in 6th grade, the plan was made for me to have a rather intense operation that involved two parts: 1) my left femur was to be broken and an external fixator was to be attached with six pens into that femur and I was to lengthen it with a little wrench a millimeter a day for a period of about four months 2) In order to help me walk somewhat normally they also were going to snap my Achilles tendon. So, in January of I guess it was 1997, my parents took me to Disney Land and then I was under the knife. When I woke up the pain wasn't from my femur but actually from the Achilles tendon...oh my gosh did that hurt!!!! I was in the hospital for about 2 weeks and dying to come back to ABQ. After 6 weeks, the cast came off of my foot, but the fixator remained for a total of 8 months. And when it was all said and done, I was on crutches for a year... not fun! I was 11 when this all went down and this was just the beginning, but all the other surgeries were cake compared to this one. Afterwards, my doctor kindly informed me that it was the most painful experience anyone could pretty much go through and I really hope so because seriously... ummm... that pain can't be put into words.

Now, there's kind of the general gist of things. I'm not telling these details for pity, but simply to state it as part of the shaping things of my life. You see program after program on TV about plastic surgery, models, and pastors smacking people on the head to heal them. I know I'm not perfect in any way shape or form, and honestly if you want me to get really hurt, you poke fun at how I walk. But what I've come to learn is just how much God has used this one big thing, thirteen years ago to change me and break me literally. When I read the story of Jacob (Israel) when he wrestled with God and God touched the socket of his hip and so Jacob walked with a limp, I relate to it in so many ways. God knit me in my mama's womb, He knew my personality, and what it would take to get through to me. I laugh thinking that He had to do that and more to get me to come to my knees and He continues to still work on me and uses physical things to really hammer in some big lessons. I just don't even want to think of the pride, selfishness, and all the other gnarly things I still have if this hadn't been part of His plan for me. He is so good and works in some unusual and painful ways, but it's all a part of His perfect plan. If only I would remember that from time to time.


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