Monday, October 24, 2011

A Ugandan Fish Story

So I love to fish. My family loves to fish and my grandpa, uncles, dad, and brothers are all avid fishermen and even my aunt and mom can hold their own with a fishing pole. Being that I'm a rather impatient person, fishing wouldn't seem to be my thing, but I love it! Of course I prefer fly fishing... and part of that's because I can keep moving, but I love fishing no matter what. I have been wanting, yearning, desiring with all my heart to fish here in Uganda but never have been able to because of lack of gear, knowledge of where to go, and people to go with. Well, that dilema which had been plaguing my existence for the past 3 years was finally resolved this evening.

This past Sunday some friends of mine told me they had taken up fishing and I all but begged them (well, come to think about it I kind of did) to let me come with them the next time they went. Today I got home from Kampala and got the call ten minutes later that they were going. So I got my new little pole that I had bought just today and set out to meet them. Four of my friends and I went down to the bank of the NIle - I only almost fell a couple of times - and pulled out the bag of worms and got to work.

Now, the pole I bought was rather cheap and may or may not have been meant for children and it proved it with its reel. It was very sad, and by the end of the evening I was using the "traditional" method of bank fishing here of just throwing out your line and using your hands to feel if you caught something and just pull it in. I was dirty and smelly with worm guts on my hands and I really didn't mind one bit. As we were fishing, the sun was setting over the Nile and the fire flies were coming out and it was really such an awesome unexpected adventure.

And now the important question, must be answered.... "Did you catch anything?" - I can proudly say yes... yes I did catch something and no it wasn't a rock or sea weed. I could tell you it was a 5 foot long Nile Perch, but I'm not ashamed to show off my first catch here in Uganda...

And yes, I know you're most likely laughing right now, but hey, in an hour or so of fishing and without any special gear, I'm ok with this guy. (And for those of you asking, yes I did put him back. And yes, I also was laughing very hard when I brought him in).

It was awesome to be out there again with the sun and the water and just having fun with friends. We're going to try and do it again next Monday and this time for the whole day, it should be fun to see what other stories are to come from my newest favorite past time here in Uganda.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Today I'm studying Acts 20 to teach at Jinja SS tomorrow night. It's mainly about Paul saying goodbye to the Ephesians knowing he won't see many of them ever again. Listening to a podcast on the chapter, it was all about goodbyes. God amazes me sometimes because I'm at the onset of another goodbye and with this goodbye will come change as I learn to grow up a little bit more and continue finding my place in life here. I've never liked change, but I know it's necessary. Without change, there's no growth. If we never allowed changes to happen in our lives then we'd never get to experience all that God made us to do. Life is full of changes, some are small and seemingly insignificant, others are huge and life changing and God is in control of them all. Goodbyes are tough, especially when it's someone you've grown so accustomed to being such a large part of your life and all you really know is how to do things with that person as a part of the life you live. But God has His calling for each one of us, and like snowflakes no calling is exactly the same. We need to not allow the fear of change or the pain of goodbye to keep us or others from being a part of the work God has called us to. It's about trusting God not only for the path He has for you but for the path He has for others and truly "let go and let God" and rejoice in the tapestry His is making with the different personalities and changes He brings our way.

Monday, October 17, 2011

My Hope

Music is a crazy thing. I may be rhythmically and vocally challenged but music is still hugely important in my life and very often comes to define certain chapters. When I was a sophomore in high school it was a David Crowder concert that brought me to my knees and basically defined the beginning of me truly walking with God. This morning, as I had finished my quiet time, the song that came on immediately after I said "amen" was My Hope by my old friend Dave. It was crazy because the words to the song were pretty much exactly what I had just finished praying, and were in line with the two of the psalms I read this morning. It was so cool, and again a definite reminder that He hears us when we call.

Here I am again
In this raging sea
On my knees again
Deep calls to deep
I feel I'm drowning
My arms are
Just too tired to swim
I feel like I'm sinking
On my knees again
In the roar of Your waterfall
In the storm of You
May You find me holding on
May You find me true

And I put my hope
And I put my trust
And I put myself in You
In You, Lord [2x]

Here I am again
In need of you
Broken, Beaten
Needing You
In the roar of Your waterfall
In the wonderful storm of You
May You find me holding on
May You find me true


Wash me clean
Set me free
Hold me close
And cover me

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Baseball, locusts, and sharing your faith

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but when there's no camera around a memory sometimes is even better. Last night at youth group, we had a really cool time and I wished I had a camera to capture some of it, but that didn't happen and honestly I'm kind of glad because now it's captured in a memory. The afternoon started when I was getting everything set up for youth group. These days, I'm flying solo with the youth group as life happens and those who had been helping are no longer around but God has given me a couple of amazing students who step up in the times I need them the most. When you ask me about what I feel blessed by, one of the things is service... just helping when I need help without needing to be asked, that's what these boys do. I was all set to do my usual stuff, and one of my guys just jumped in and did it for me, it was so sweet and a total testimony about the kind of guys they are. It didn't matter how tired I was, that alone was God giving me the shot in the arm to have the strength for the rest of the evening.

As the students started coming I had gotten out an old nerf baseball bat and a softball and asked if the kids wanted to try it out. It was so much fun because I was the one teaching them how to play.... it was hilarious because I'm not much of a baseball player myself and we all were laughing and screaming. I quickly decided that the softball hurt way too much so we switched to using a hacky sack... much better on the hands (and shins). It was a blast and a sweet time of fellowship before the Bible study started.

For the teaching, we were in Revelation 8 and 9 and if you want to read some crazy chapters in the Bible, those are some good ones. We learned about how God warns us about what is coming and the suffering and how now is our chance to get a clue basically and come to HIm and if we have already, we need to get to work sharing Him with those around us so they don't have to go through that time. It's a sobering thing realizing that as bad as the final 3 1/2 years are of the tribulation... eternity in hell is even more intense. It was a heavy message for students who ranged from 10-17, but they got it.

After the teaching, we spent time discussing how to share our faith and just some of the questions they had about what people have asked them. These kids deal with some intense questions and opposition, but the coolest thing was that when I asked "who has shared the Gospel with someone before?" I would say around twenty kids raised their hands. These kids who are so young yet passionate about the things of God. That's one of the reasons why I love youth, because even when adults put so much stock in rejection and what people might say/do to them these youth are fearless.

I love my students. I love their excitement. I love their care-free attitudes and I love seeing what God is doing in their lives and how He's continuing to shape them into students who love Him with all their hearts, soul, mind, and strength.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ma Girlz

In Uganda, it's very common for students to be in boarding school especially once they reach secondary (high) school. I have a couple of girls who I have seen God do awesome stuff in over the past three years and this past year they had to go into boarding school which meant I wouldn't get to hang out with them and pour into them as much as I used to. Their school is very strict and doesn't allow outsiders to come in and teach Bible studies so I can't even see them in that capacity, but we were able to find a way for me to get to hang out with them by me coming on Thursdays for an hour after school before they go to dinner and just casually hanging out with them. I love my time with these girls! I get caught up on all the happenings in the lives of 12, 15, and 17 year old girls. We spend the hour laughing and also talking about deeper things other than just how scandelously some of the girls dress. Usually for the last half we discuss what they're reading and what God's teaching them.

I love these girls! Achiro and Peace, the two on the left are seriously the most amazing girls who have yet to conform to the pressures of the world and I pray all the time that they will continue to not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of their minds. Achiro has shown awesome leadership and passion for the things of God and is so disciplined in putting God first even though this year is the hardest year of school as she's in S4 and is about to take one of the most important tests for students here in Uganda. Pray for these girls that they would be different from the others around them. That they wouldn't cave to the peer pressure, that they would remain pure, and that they would remain passionate about their walks with God.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A glimpse of domesticity

I don't cook a lot... it's not that I don't like to, it's just that well... it takes patience and I don't really have much of that but every now and then I try my hand at it. I really do like to cook as there's a sense of achievement when you make something that others can enjoy. Yesterday, I felt rather proud of my domestic abilities as I finally achieved something I'd been wanting to do for quite some time: I made bagels. And not just bagels, but BAGELS (which we don't really have much of here). They were chewy and beautiful, a little small, but glorious none the less. I can only imagine how entertaining my running commentary on the whole escapade.


Noun: "Refusal to accept any standard short of perfection"

In a human sense being a perfectionist has a lot to do with pride: getting straight A's, being a teacher's pet, receiving all awards and pats of the back. And When you don't receive those or live up to your perception of perfection, well... let's just say it's bad juju. Just yesterday I was cooking and realized it's a dangerous hobby for me to pursue because it definitely infringes upon my perfectionism as I try to learn new things and typically fail in some sort of aspet. Most of the time what I make tastes good but the appearance of it is another story. The problem that also comes with being a perfectionist is that you tend to impose your expectations of perfection not only on yourself but on others as well and that's just simply setting yourself up for trouble.

Well, I'm that kind of perfectionist... the bad kind, the proud kind. God, on the other hand is the good kind of perfectionist. He may accept failure in some ways in His kids but He still works in them in order to achieve his perfect perfection. Jesus even called us to "be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect". God is perfectly good, perfectly loving, perfectly merciful, perfectly holy and that's the perfection I should strive for. In our sinful selves this perfection is impossible, and it's in times of struggle and trial you see just how much you fall short in this call. It's easy to think that you're doing "alright" when life is good and even take pride in just how "good" you're doing, but when you're wrung out like a sponge and you see what comes out, you see that you are far from that perfection that you thought you were getting closer to. That's when we can rejoice in promises like Philippians 1:6, "being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. " I love how even though God is a perfectionist in His perfect way, He doesn't give up when we fail to be perfect but He perseveres until His goal is complete as His Spirit works in us to remove what's not of Him to conform us more and more to His image. I swallow my pride as I admit that I'm far from perfect in any sense of the word, but I rejoice in that I serve a perfect God and one day I will be able to stand before Him with His work in me complete and the trials and fires that brought about His perfection in me will be more than worth it.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Helpless (that I can't do anything in myself to fix what's happening around me).... emptied (of everything that is of me) ....broken (not just a scratch or crack but shattered of my self)....weary (without any of my strength left.... those four words pretty much sum of how I'm feeling right now.

On that happy note let me say that one of THE biggest struggles of being on the mission field is being away from your family when they're going through tough times and for the past couple of months my family has had to deal with a lot (well, actually the past year.... but the past couple of months have been crazy). I'm having to come to the end of myself and realize that what I am forced to do here is really the only good thing I can be doing to help my family no matter where I'm at and that thing is pray. Pray to the one who's the Great Physician knowing He knows exactly what's wrong and if He wants to, can heal in the blink of the eye. I can't run tests, give diagnoses, or treatments, but I can pray and I can trust that He knows what He's doing.

My family facing their own struggles is just part of what God is using in my life to bring me to my knees right now, there are several other things happening but again, I'm not writing this to provoke sympathy or any real response, I'm writing this to in my own small way encourage those who may be hurting and can identify with those words that define life right now. It seems as of late that I've frequently reached bottom, on a fairly consistent basis I find myself literally crying out to God asking Him for strength, asking Him to heal, and just "casting all my burdens unto Him" 1 Peter 5:7. And it's in the midst of those rock bottom times when He shows time and time again that "if we are faithless, He will remain faithful" 2 Timothy 2:13. I know it may sound somewhat like your typical answer but what God used David and the other writers of the Psalms to do was just yet another thing that shows He is, "The Father of compassion and the God of all comfort," 2 Corinthians 1:3b. As I begged Him to speak to me through His Word, He really blew me away with meeting me where I was at in just my normal reading through Psalms. One time it was Psalm 31 and He reiterated His goodness and how I need to trust and wait on Him. And then today He spoke so clearly yet again in the classic Psalm 51 and it was verse 17 that hit me the hardest, "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." Let me tell you, reading that when you're really broken gets your attention. People say that God, Jesus, religion is a crutch... I'd say "AMEN!" to that because He is that and so so much more. If I didn't have Him in my life, I don't even want to think about what would be happening. I can see how so many hurting people turn to drugs, alcohol, and relationships to try and ease the pain and make sense of things because they don't know they have a God, Father, Savior, Friend who cares infinitely more for them than anyone ever will. I praise Him for how in the midst of the tears, He is there, in the midst of the confusion, He is there, in the midst of the pain, He is there. And it all is a part of His ultimate purpose to conform me into the perfection He calls me to.

I'll just end this with kind of the reverse of my opening paragraph. Yes, I'm feeling helpless, but HE knows what He's doing and is God Almighty. Yes, I'm feeling emptied, but He's bringing me to that point to fill me with Him. Yes, I'm feeling broken, but He's there to put me back together and this time without my nasty, gnarly disgusting flesh that keeps me from knowing Him the way He wants me to. And yes, I'm weary, but He calls me to come to Him and He will give me rest.

Bottom line... it's about HIM, not about me. It's about His glory, His perfection, His plan, His timing. Not mine. Days like today definitely leave scars, but they're the good kind, the kind that remind you of your desperate need for Him and how He so faithfully, tenderly, and powerfully heard my cries for help and reached down to pull me to Him.


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