Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I love my job!

I know that may sound crazy to some, and like a "no duh" to others. But really... I absolutely LOVE what I get to wake up every morning to go and do. So often I'm quick to complain about the headaches, speed bumps, struggles, but fail to praise Him for the unbelievably awesome calling He has on my life. I echo David when he asks the question, "Who am I?" Who am I to get to live in this beautiful country? Who am I that I get to work with our amazing staff? Who am I that I get to learn from people who have been on the field since before I was in high school? Who am I that I get to hang out with students that amaze and humble me on a daily basis? Who am I that I get to witness the eternity changing work He's doing in and through these students? I'm surrounded by people who love me for who I am, I'm able to do what I love more than anything to do and that's teach and disciple people in their walks with Christ. I get to use my creativity, organizational abilities, and my lack of fear of public speaking, and even my quirkiness for HIs glory in a way I never dreamed possible. The most amazing thing about it is the fact that if I had my "ten year plan" of five years ago, I would be in an office consulting someone on how to run their business more efficiently (which isn't bad by any means). But instead, I get to go through nights without power, but get to see the contrast of the great power of HIs Spirit working in and through those around me. I cry more and experience more heart ache and disappointment than I ever thought possible but then I get to witness students lives changing before my very eyes as they recognize who they are in Christ and it makes all the pain more than worth it. God has taught me more about His sovereignty, grace, mercy, holiness, and love than can ever be learned in any book, and again I must ask the question, "Who am I?"

This wasn't my plan, this wasn't my "dream", but it was His. He did all the work, opened all the doors, and all but shoved me through those doors so His good and perfect plan could take shape. When people ask me how long I plan to be here and I say "indefinitely" they can't quite comprehend why I would say that, but I honestly can't imagine doing anything else in the entire world. All that to say, "I LOVE MY JOB!" and He deserves ALL the honor, glory, and praise for it.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Construction Zone

Whenever short term teams set out they often hear (or should hear) that those endeavors honestly are more for what God wants to do IN them than THROUGH them. Sometimes when you're on the mission field you can sometimes forget that the same principle can still apply to you.

For the past 3 weeks we have been building homes to replace those lost in the fire. It has been one crazy endeavor as we honestly bit off a little more than we originally bargained for. You see, it's not just about going and everyone working together as one happy family kind of Extreme Makeover Home Edition style. There's a lot more stretching (physical, emotional, and spiritual) than one might expect in dealing with a task like this. We didn't know what it would entail, but God did. He knew EXACTLY how he wanted to use this whole thing to teach and stretch all of us involved and to drive some pretty big lessons into some fairly thick skulls (I may or may not be talking about myself).

One thing I definitely learned about is how our God is so unbelievably patient and forgiving and how insanely much... I am not. Over and over through my quiet times God would lay the smack down on how I wasn't glorifying him in certain ways, namely in my anger when people were found to be dishonest. I'll have to admit the "Irish" (and not the good part) in me reared it's head several times, but I'm hoping I've learned my lesson through it all as I realize that it's not good that they're lying/stealing/etc... but it's also not good for me to allow myself to be provoked to wrath and that I need to love them. One story that really hit me hard was when Jesus ate with the "sinners" and tax collectors. The people living in this area are well-known for being the opposite of anyone you'd want living near you, and a government official even said the people there were lazy and stupid. Recognizing that they are "sinners" and why should I be surprised when they sin? Why should I stop loving them because they have sinned against me, because if God worked that way we'd all be in big trouble!

I also learned things like where to buy bricks, plywood, and roofing materials... and I'll admit that I would have really loved a Lowe's after spending an hour waiting at just the roofing place.

Along with the internal and practical lessons, I also just had an absolute blast working alongside of some pretty amazing people! The Longs, Peterson's, Shalom, Davis, John, and Asimwe along with some other volunteers made it incredibly fun and made the hard stuff bearable. I honestly LOVED working on this project (even though it was hard at times) and am so thankful for the opportunity God gave me to be a part of it!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Women's Day

It's funny how they make a day where women are to be celebrated and served (not going to mention how they don't really celebrate it in America). Uganda is typically a very much "women are meant to cook and have babies" society, but Women's Day is celebrated and the men are actually pretty good sports about cooking for the women in their lives.

Every year, the married guys of our compound come together to cook a huge meal for the women and they allow us single gals to take part in the festivities as well. I love the view of the kitchen of the guys there doing their specific tasks wearing their very stylish aprons.

This year though, there was a new twist. Three of the younger guys who have honestly become like brothers to me (especially over the past couple of weeks) got me dinner. It was pretty hilarious and pretty much amazing as they left at around 3 saying they will be back with the food. I was afraid that we wouldn't be eating until 10 since they were getting such a late start and I honestly wasn't sure if they knew what they were doing. But then come 5:45ish they arrive and ask "where should we eat?" They carried no sauce pans or plates, just their backpacks. As we got the dining hall, they clean off a table and get a huge serving plate and open their backpacks to pull out black plastic bags. Out of one bag comes pork cooked with cabbage that they got from a local restaurant, and then in the other bag there was rice, matooke (like plantains), and posho (kind of like mashed potatoes but more dense) all of which they either bought or scavenged for. Then we all sat down and ate from that one plate and talked and laughed and it was such a fun time with great food and I honestly couldn't stop smiling. I praise God for the "brothers" He's blessed me with both here and in the States - the real ones and the honorary ones. They are truly such blessings!

After that it was then time for the other gathering with the older crew. The guys brought over their pots of food and we all were able to enjoy some sweet fellowship as they served their wives and the other women in their lives (Rodah, Julie, and myself).

It was such a cool day and I just have to say that I love the people I serve alongside!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

About Kony....

I am amazed at the recent attention Joseph Kony is getting due to the Kony 2012 campaign, and I thought it was time for me to kind of shed some more light on the situation considering that I am in Uganda.

For over 25 years Kony has been terrorizing the people of Eastern Africa (specifically Northern Uganda and most recently the Congo). I have been in Uganda nearly four years, and five years ago I came on a short-term trip, even by that time Kony had moved on and was no longer in Uganda and hasn't returned since. I'm voicing this because although the Kony 2012 video hints at how Kony is now in other areas, the main emphasis is on Uganda but he's not and I pray that he will never be again.

Several of our staff members dealt with Kony first hand over 20 years ago. One of them who was living in the Gulu area (main center of the conflict) at the time, was with his brother and saw the soldiers coming to his land so he and his brother ran and hid for the day and shortly after that he moved south to the Jinja area. Another guy ran away with his sister lying saying that she was his wife to escape being captured. Another was captured but released by the grace of God after 24 hours. One of our village churches was affected as the rebels came and burned the entire area.

Traveling up North doing outreaches and visiting friends who have churches there, you pass by and even stay in what used to be Internally displaced persons camps. The people are returning to their villages and trying to figure out what "normal" life looks like as many of them have been in the camps for around 20 years.

I agree that Kony needs to be stopped and that he's incredibly evil man and that people should be aware of what he's doing. I think it's great that so many people are wanting to stop him in whatever way they can. I guess I just wanted to give a little insight into what it's like on the Ugandan side of things.


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