Monday, December 30, 2013

My mom...

So this may be a bit random but hopefully that doesn't surprise many of you who know me...

I'm going to let you all in on Albuquerque's best kept secret: the greatest woman in the world lives at my house. I guess judging by the title you can tell that this post is about my mom. It's not her birthday or anything like that but just me getting the privilege to witness her living life over the past 2 1/2 months, or I guess I should say the past 27 1/2 years and I just can't keep quiet about what an amazing woman she is.

For those of you who have met my mom, I believe you would agree with what I'm about to say. And for those who haven't met her, well... let's just say you're missing out.

If I could sum up my mom in one word it would be "SELFLESS". She is truly THE biggest servant I have ever met in the history of my life. I honestly don't know how she does it. She is a thousand times stronger than I am and puts up with so much from so many people (including yours truly). She wakes up at 5 in the morning, leaves for work at 6:30, doesn't get off until 6 at night. She comes home and then deals with all of us and our "needs" and the house... she's absolutely amazing! She almost never stops and well, basically...she's super woman.

I understand that most feel that way about their moms but my mom's had a bit of a doozy when it comes down to the hand she's been dealt but she continues to be the sweetest, cutest, prettiest woman you will ever meet... her husband, kids,family, friends, co-workers, and even her mother-in-law all attest to her amazingness.

If you were to have a picture Bible through the book of Proverbs, you would most likely see a picture of my mom next to Proverbs 31... that chapter that most of us read and say that it's an impossible standard to attain to but sad to say, I live with that woman. I am truly honored and blessed to call her my mom and pray that one day when I grow up I can be at least a little bit like her.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

I'll be home for Christmas....

Two and a half months ago I was having a gnarly case of homesickness. There really is nothing like “home” for the holidays. The problem in my case is that well… for five years I basically had two homes.

I LOVE getting to spend time with my family and taking part in all of our fun and crazy traditions where even though my brothers and I are “adults” now (I use that term very loosely), we still love getting our PJs Christmas Eve and watching the Grinch. We love the whole process of waking up Christmas morning and waiting for our parents before we open presents. We love the excitement of wondering what we got and then squealing with glee as our “wish list” gets taken care of one by one. We know that’s not what Christmas is all about but it’s just fun.

Although I have absolutely loved being home for Christmas, I will confess it was tough one this year as this was not how I was expecting this Christmas to be. I thought I was going to be celebrating my first Christmas with my husband back in Jinja with our own little tree and making our own traditions. But God had other plans… It is bitter-sweet times like this that I have to recognize that He has the authority to change our plans and that you never know what is going to happen next year, next month, or even in the next hour.

I don’t know how you were able to celebrate Christmas this year or whom you were with but my encouragement to you is this: soak it up for all it’s worth. Each and every person God has placed in your life is a gift, be it a grand parent, a parent, sister/brother, a spouse, or just a friend. Life changes, people come and go, and you never know what will happen in the future.

The good thing is that 1) He and His love never changes and 2) this world is not our ultimate home. Our real home is a place where we will no longer experience heartache, sadness or pain and it’s in that hope that I have to rest in these difficult times.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Roller Coasters

So, you know those theme parks like Six Flags that are all about roller coasters and everyone is so excited to go on the biggest, scariest ones with the most extreme speeds and loops and what not? Well, the last time I went to Six Flags was several years ago but I will confess my favorite ride was the Merry Go-Round...seriously, it was. Needless to say, I'm not a fan of twists and turns and going up and down and all around... sorry for those of you needing Dramamine right about now. And really, that's what life has been over the past two months... a roller coaster and I'll confess the girl inside of me who likes to be safe, with both feet on the ground, with no unexpected surprises but knowing exactly what's coming around the corner is not a big fan of the craziness of these past months. It almost seems like daily things go up and down and forward and backwards and I'm crying out to let me off, but that's not possible as we're at the top of a hill and if I get off now, all that's there is a huge drop.

The thing about this "ride" though, is that God continuously keeps reminding me just how much He's in control and how I'm in the palm of His hand. It seems like nearly every day through His Word, He's reminding me of His unfailing love, how He knows my heart and the situation that I'm in and He knows when and how the ride is going to end. To say this ride is "fun" would not be anywhere near accurate but just when I think I can't take it anymore He brings about glimpses of His grace and moments that bring joy. It's those moments that help me to hang on for dear life as my heart sinks down into my stomach as I rush into another dip. But really, He has been so unbelievably faithful even throughout this crazy ride, and as I've said before, I don't know when it will end, but He does. He's a good God who loves me and has all of this under control and even if the ups and downs take me by surprise and terrify me to my very core, He saw them coming, He even allowed them to be there to test me to see just how much I will trust Him. He is so amazingly worthy of my trust and at times yes, He does call us even in the midst of the scariest rides of our lives, to just put our arms in the air. I do need to just enjoy the ride, knowing who's in control, let go, be still and trust...and maybe scream a little :)

Thursday, November 28, 2013

These are a few of my favorite things...

Can I be honest about something right now? I'm an American girl, I'm proud of the freedoms we have, and I'm definitely grateful for the blessings we have being citizens of this country but the reality is that when I was living in Africa for the past five years... I really didn't miss a whole heck of a lot about the States but the things that I did miss are what this blog post is all about.

Spending time and laughing with my mom
Talking about life with my dad
Hugs from my brothers that seem to make everything better
Laughing with my crazy awesome fabulous grandma, grandpa, aunts, uncles, and cousins
Hanging out with friends who have known and loved me through the good, the bad, and the ugly

(I could add Green Chile in there but then I feel I would digress quickly...)

I praise God for things like Skype, e-mail, and facebook they definitely bring people closer and the 8,000 miles don't seem so far but there's just something about sitting at a table and crying with someone or having your brother randomly pick you up and throw you over his shoulder. I am genuinely and sincerely blessed beyond measure with the people and relationships He has placed in my life. The caliber of individuals He has allowed me to know is like He just wants to show off about how much He truly loves me.

During this stormy season, I do think of that classic Sound of Music song that Maria tells the kids to sing "I simply remember a few of my favorite things and then I don't bad...." It's the people in my life that are a few of my favorite things and when my world seems to be crumbling around me, it's those blessings of having the best friends and family a girl could ever ask for that bring me joy and show me God's grace.

I have heard that the real story about the first Thanksgiving involved the pilgrims thinking that life was so hard and that maybe it was time for them to just go back to England. Some thought they should pray and fast for guidance but then one guy stepped forward and told them how they had already prayed and fasted enough... they had fish in the streams and their crops were starting to grow. He felt it would be good to have a day of feasting and focus on what they were thankful for rather than what they didn't have.

That story is pretty much the perfect reminder for me today as it is an official day of Thanksgiving and although life isn't what I had hoped or planned, I still have so so much to be thankful for.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Under the rapids

A few years ago I went rafting on the Nile. It was one of those times where I had some friends going and I just finally thought it was time for me to do something crazy and not play things so safe all of the time. So I psyched myself up, we loaded on the raft, and then we set out. On a rapid entitled "Silverback" the guide braced us saying that we just will need to get down and try to make it through the rapid and not even paddle because it was one of the most unpredictable rapids. As we hit the rapid, all of the sudden we saw the front of the raft go up and out I went. I went down to the bottom of the river and found that there are some pleasant sharp rocks. Before that, the guide had told us that if we got knocked out we should make ourselves into a ball and our life vest would make us bounce up... yeah...right.... I was at the bottom being bashed by the rocks and as it turns out breaking my foot and not knowing which way was up with my head hurting from lack of oxygen and really thinking that was it and then all of the sudden I was at the surface. Then a kayak came by and picked me up and I wrapped my legs around and hung on for dear life. I got back on the raft and praised God that I had actually survived the ordeal.

Well... I bring this up because yesterday that's really the illustration God kind of gave me to best describe what this time seems like. I feel like I'm caught under the rapids, that I'm being bashed up against rocks and really not knowing when or how I will make it through... But then I have to recognize I have on my life vest of His Word and the helmet of prayer (yes I know it's not identical to the full armor of God but work with me...). That rafting trip was probably the scariest experience of my life and really the only time I sincerely thought I could die. BUT GOD brought me back up to the surface and I know that's what He is able to do in this situation too. What is going on is by far the most difficult season I've ever been through but I praise Him for how His Word is able to bring me back up, that His voice is able to put breath in my lungs, and there will be a time when I will rise to the surface again. God is a God of awesome rescues, He's a God of hope, He's a God who is there when you don't know if you can make it through...He is a God who is faithful.

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Wilderness

Beginning in the book of Exodus you read about the Israelites traveling through the wilderness. They begin it with God doing amazing things to have them released from Egypt and then you find that God made their path go in such a way where they HAD to stand at the shore of the Red Sea just when the Egyptian army was approaching. It looked impossible and yet God parted the sea and the people were able to walk through on dry ground. After dealing with the amazing miraculous sea parting, the Israelites continued to be in the wilderness following the pillar God used to guide them. No matter how many times God took care of them, protected them, and provided for them they continued to complain and doubt God’s care and goodness. Then as they approached the Promised Land and Moses sent in the twelve spies ten of them came back with a report of the giants and that the people would be destroyed if they tried to fight them. Joshua and Caleb however returned saying that with God, they could take them. It was because of their lack of faith they would have to wander for 40 years. But even during that prolonged time that was self-inflicted by their own lack of faith, God never let their clothes or sandals wear out or let them go hungry or thirsty. And that story is used throughout Scripture as an example of just how awesome God is even in times of wandering in the wilderness.

It’s been brought to my attention by several people that right now this is my wilderness season. God leads His people into the wilderness to test and refine them. You look throughout Scripture and this principle is there nearly from beginning to end. Genesis, when Abraham was called to leave everything and then even counting the season of waiting for Isaac to come, Joseph in prison, Moses’ 40 years before being called by God to deliver the Israelites, Ruth as she was working the fields, David hiding from Saul and even from his son Absolom, Elijah when he was called to go into hiding, and that’s just a sample of the Old Testament saints who went through seasons of pain, uncertainty and having to learn to trust and obey God. Then in the New Testament you see Paul being in Arabia, Peter in his time between the Resurrection and being reinstated, John on the Island of Patmos, and of course Jesus when He was led into the wilderness to be tempted. These “wilderness” times were so vital in making these people vessels God was able to use for His glory in amazing ways but they (except Jesus of course) had some rough edges that needed to be sanded down. That sanding or refining tends to only happen in the times where we are called to wait upon Him in times of uncertainty, discomfort, and yes sometimes pain.

I can’t lie and pretend by saying that my faith has not wavered during this past month as I’ve embarked on my journey, but God continues to prove His faithfulness in both little and big ways. He continues to show me His constant care and awareness of the fact how much pain I’m in. And yet still He whispers the same thing He’s said from the beginning that I simply need to wait and trust Him to work things out for His glory. I just pray that I don’t behave like the ten spies who lacked faith but that I would trust God in His leading as He continues with me as I wander following Him and having faith that He is bringing me into a place that will blow my mind.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

When your world gets rocked

Pain and suffering are basically inevitable in life... we all go through trials each one tailor made for us and almost like snowflakes, one person’s trial never seems to exactly match that of another person’s. That’s I think the danger we can fall into, we compare ourselves to others... we say, “she thinks she has problems” or “he has no idea what suffering is”. It does not matter if you are suffering from financial woes, health problems, a break up, or family issues heartache is heartache plain and simple and there’s no pill on this planet that can permanently take that pain away.

Without going into details, I’m dealing with my own earth-shattering trial right now. I praise God that I can confidently say that this is not punishment for my own sin but a breaking and pruning of the most extreme degree in order to bring me to my knees and draw me closer to Him. You sometimes see trials coming or they come slowly other times they hit you like a semi truck going 120 mph and you don’t know how you’re ever going to make it through. You can’t breathe you’re in so much pain and you feel lost not knowing what is next. But I can also praise God that He’s on the throne and that His Word is living. I cannot tell you how much God has used His Word to bring me comfort, correction, and guidance when I don’t know how to take my next step. If I hadn’t known my Bible like I do I don’t know how or if I would have survived this time... I’m not bragging, it’s by Him alone that I’ve had love for His Word, it hasn’t always been that way. This is where my encouragement comes... I don’t know what you’re dealing with. But He does. I don’t what to say, but He does. I don’t know how it will all work out, but He does. He calls His child in the midst of trials and storms to collapse in His arms, not to try to figure it out or manipulate it so your will be done above His. In the midst of trials (at least for me) His answer is simply “wait” as He whispers to me those two words “trust me”. It’s not easy to walk by faith when we can’t see, but that’s what we have to do. I used to think I understood what that meant until now. Trials and suffering are in the hands of a good God and even though it doesn’t seem “good” for you to be in the pain that you are, it doesn’t change the fact that He is infinitely loving, infinitely good, infinitely holy and infinitely powerful.

The book that I began reading through just days before this storm rolled in was the book of Job, God in His sovereignty had me in the perfect place at the perfect time. Job lost everything...EVERY THING. And yet he still trusted in God and then when his faith was waining, God spoke to him asking him where he was when the earth was made. When Job lost everything, still probably choking on his tears, he worshiped and asked “can we accept the good from God and not the bad”, and “the Lord gives and the Lord takes away but blessed be the Name of the Lord.”

Again it is through His Word He speaks the strongest, if you’re not in your Bible daily I encourage you and almost plead with you to start now. Even if you’re not suffering, read it, love it, believe it, and live it. Like Jesus said, if someone hears his words and puts them into practice they are like a house built on rock and the wind and rains hit but it is able to stand strong. He is my strength especially in my weakness and brokenness and I just pray that I don’t loose my grip even after this storm is over. He works all things together for good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose even if you can’t see what that good could possibly be. He is good and His love does endure forever!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Good Things Come to those Who Wait

At Jinja SS we are studying through 2 Samuel and in the first few chapters it's really just one big waiting game. You feel bad for David... he was young and got the promise "you are going to shepherd My people", then after years of running for his life and living behind enemy lines it finally seems like he's going to receive the promise God gave him... but oh wait, nope! He still has to wait 7 1/2 more years for it to reach 100% fruition. The waiting game is tough stuff but for the most part ol'e Davie boy hangs in there and even gets upset when others try to help get things going.

David had his shortfalls but for the most part he sets us an awesome example of what it means to be a man (or woman) after God's own heart. Being able to wait upon the Lord is a mark of maturity in our walks with God... if you can't wait for His perfect timing and will it simply shows a lack of faith. I'm saying this basically from a point of a long line of prayer requests that maybe didn't get answered right away and just seem to be on "pending" at the moment. It's funny when you teach because 12/10 (yes, I did that on purpose) times God is teaching you more than He's teaching those you're teaching.

I'm dealing with students who are facing HUGE struggles in their lives, struggles that I can't even fathom. They are having to wait on God not just for a "want" but to see their needs met. It's hard when you know His promises and you want to trust but you just don't see them being answered. That was David's exact situation. That's where I LOVE that "ALL Scripture is God-breathed and is useful to teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training..." If only we would be in His word and read about real people who had to deal with real problems and how God's faithfulness held strong even when it didn't look like it, I feel like we would have a lot easier time in life. You hear the old cliche that God keeps you from something "good" because what He has in store for you is "great". We only see with our small finite human vision and minds, God sees with eternity in mind. It's the waiting that makes us stronger, it's the waiting that builds character and faith. If David hadn't had to wait all that time he maybe would have been a good king, but the waiting made him a great king. Waiting is what rids us of pride and brings us to points of brokenness and surrender and that's exactly what God wants for us.

I realize that my students and I are not the only ones maybe struggling with this... maybe you're waiting for God for a new job, a spouse, a new ministry opportunity, or a menagerie of other desires of our heart and you're praying and praying and yet...nothing. Take heart friend, He's good, He's in control, and He doesn't just see the short-term, but has your long term interest and His glory in mind as He brings things about in your life.
"Even youths grow tired and weary,
And young men stumble and fall;
But those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
They will walk and not be faint."

- Isaiah 40:30-31

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Kenya Attack

One thing you need to know about my husband is that he lives off of the news… at any given time he likes to have the news on the TV and also on the radio so he can stay up to date on what is happening in Uganda and around the world. I had never paid much about the news until I got married… now I won’t lie I definitely appreciate being more aware of all that is happening. Of course, sometimes “ignorance is bliss” and you would almost rather not know all the craziness that is happening. It seems like on a daily basis you hear about Egypt, Syria, and other countries around the world where countless people are dying because of weather or war. You hear about it, but then sometimes it strikes close to home and it hits you harder than usual. That is what happened three days ago when I got home to hear the news “Kenya has been attacked”.

It’s terrible enough that 10-15 heavily armed and prepared gunmen rushed into a huge beautiful shopping mall in Nairobi right at lunch time on a Saturday afternoon. It’s terrible enough that they shot security guards point blank, that they asked all the Muslims to leave, and then started asking the hostages questions and if they failed to answer them to their standards they killed them as well as killing some just because their cell phones went off. But now… three days later, imagine what it would be like seeing people continuing to be killed before your eyes, still not being able to leave, and who knows if they can get food or water and having no idea if they will ever see their loved ones again. Thinking about what the hostages who have been used as human shields at times continue to go through kept me awake last night.

This is terrible… but this is the state of our world. This is the state of a world that has forgotten their God. This is the state of a world that has rejected a God of love, holiness, and grace and has gone after religion of self. The first reaction the world and sadly to say, many Christians, would be to attack Muslims (Al-Shabab has claimed responsibility). I’ll be honest, I was sickened that when on September 11th people were saying how they’re going to celebrate by eating pork basically to spit in the face of Muslims. How does that show love? How does that attitude glorify God?

Last night I was nearly in tears thinking of this situation, and this morning the tears are in my eyes not because of horrific nature of this attack but because of how Kenyans are responding. They are not reacting in hate but instead in love for one another. They are donating blood, sending help to the Red Cross, and the thing that got me the most was one guy who just decided to bring a gas cylinder and a stove to make morning tea for the police officers who are on duty there. Nairobi is fairly developed according to African standards but they’re still Africa… but they were able to be put away their tribal and political differences to rally alongside one another in this time.

Instead of “reacting” in anger, may this event trigger in us two things 1) Realize you NEVER know when life will change. Make sure those in your life know you love them and don’t live life with regrets thinking “one day I’ll make it right”. And 2) If you are a believer in Christ, we should be motivated to share His love more and more in this crazy world because we have hope… hope that one day we will experience eternity without tears, suffering or pain.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

5 years

August 29th, 2008 is a day that will go down in infamy in my life. It was the day that I officially moved to Uganda to serve as a missionary in the lovely town of Jinja. In some ways it seems like a lifetime ago that it happened, and in some ways the life I lived in the States seems like it was just last week. As I've already documented, my life dream was not to be a missionary in Africa, I wanted to do business, that's what I was good at and just seemed to be the course my life was going on. It was the short-term trip to Jinja that I took in 2007 that changed everything. Like the joke goes, "If you want to make God laugh, make plans".

When I landed here, I had the commitment of 2 years in mind and nothing more. I figured I would "get it out of my system" and then get back to "normal" life. I came kicking and screaming with more or less a Jonah attitude of being angry with God for sending me here away from everyone and just couldn't believe that I had to come 8,000 miles away to a place I didn't know and live with people who were basically strangers to me. I know, it was a terrible attitude and it took 5 months of wrestling for God to finally break me and bring me to the point of surrendering to His will and not mine.

I had a lot of ideas of how things would go and what I would do and I'll be honest, about 100% has changed in the past five years. I've learned that I LOVE teaching and have been given unreal opportunities to do so. I've had to deal with pouring into people only to have them turn around and bite me in the back or spreading rumors that I didn't like someone I actually loved. Let's just say teenage girls are not easy to break through and if you're in ministry to youth, well... just be ready for some heartbreak.

God has caused me to learn about the fact that missions is quite possibly the most difficult yet most rewarding job you could be called to, and every day I'm reminded of what a "foolish thing" I truly am. I'm FAR from perfect and honestly I've almost reached a conclusion that the mission field is full of the biggest pieces or work rather than all of those who have it all together. He has called us here because we (well at least I) needed some serious work on refining our character. When I got here 5 years ago I would have told you in more or less words that I was basically fabulous and that God and the ministry were lucky to have me... as ugly as that sounds to admit. That of course has now taken a 180 and I'm just blown away that God hasn't struck me dead on the spot as I fumble through life and make mistakes, fall down, and then He has to swoop in and rescue me. There have been so many people God has used to help me learn and grow though, and the woman I am today would not be the same if I had not have come here and gone through fire after fire as God continues to burn more of "Kelli" away and replaces it with more of Him.

The staff at the church, fellow missionaries, but more specifically it's people like Jess and Bev whose patience with a young, naive, proud missionary were priceless as I went through growing up on the mission field. Their care and guidance has been priceless and I really don't think I would have survived these five years here without them. (This is just an aside to anyone praying about going onto the mission field... I HIGHLY recommend not just coming out here on a whim, make sure you have mature people who can help you navigate the incredibly rough waters of the culture and ministry you're getting into). Along with them there are various friendships along the way both missionaries and ugandans who have taught me so much words can't describe it. Things change an people go, but their impact remains. I can't help but also mention that my family, care team, and parents are out of this world. Their ministry as "serving as senders" has made living here much more bearable and making the 8,000 miles not seem so far away sometimes. I know many people don't get the support I do from loved ones in the States, and it's definitely not something I take for granted. And with that, I want to thank all of you who have financially supported the ministry here (some of you since i first came) and God has used your service to Him in doing that to reach and minister to hundreds (if not thousands) of youth around Uganda and I can't put into words my gratitude for that.

Of course... what kind of wife would I be if I didn't mention my husband. We have only been married 6 months (Sept. 1 is our 6 month anniversary :) ) but God has used Davis in such a way as to guide me and speak into my life that I can't even begin to tell you. His gentle, loving, yet strong approach to lead me to be the woman after God's own heart blows me away each and every day.

God has amazed me with what He has done these past five years and I can't wait to see what all He will do in the next five. Thank you for all your encouragement, prayers, and support over the years!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Holiday Happenings

Well… it’s the school holiday which in my world I call it “Go Time”. During the school term I have such a limited time with my students… only 2 hours on Saturdays and then those who go to Jinja SS I see another 2 hours or so during the week, that’s it. But the holiday gives me extra time to pour into them and disciple them and every holiday my prayer is that I would “make the most out of every opportunity”. After much prayer and planning the calendar for the next three weeks is set.

This week we have:
Guys day at Kingfisher (a local resort) on Thursday and then the girls turn is on Friday. I’ve asked several men and women from our staff to help out with this even to spend the afternoon pouring into the students as they swim, eat, and have a good time. I’m excited to see what God will do during these times when they can be themselves and be real as they will also spend time in discussion and prayer. It should be a cool way to kick off the holiday events.

On Saturday, we will the Sunday School team put on a big kids event which will be like a VBS carnival of sorts. My students will help the School of Ministry students as well as the Sunday School teachers as they teach and play with hundreds of kids.

Next week:
My boys LOVE soccer/football and so this Sunday my team, Tottenham Hotspurs will be playing Arsenal (the favorite team of many of my students). So we’re going to pack a venue that will be playing the game, drink some sodas, eat some snacks and partake in maybe just a little smack talk ☺ It should be a cool time of fellowship.

Tuesday will bring a tournament called the Ignite Football/Bible challenge. This will involve the students being in teams of two with one partner who’s good at Bible knowledge and the other who is good at playing football (soccer). They will then be asked trivia questions from the New Testament and if they get them right the football partner will then do a challenge that shows off their football skills in order to get points. The team at the end of course gets a prize.

Wednesday and Thursday we will do classes on how to study their Bibles. We’ve already done a class like that, but this is kind of like How to Study your Bible 201. It was by request that we do this again, so if the students request something like this, then who am I to say no. Needless to say I was stoked by this suggestion.

On Friday we will bless a family who has fallen on rough times. We have many donations of clothes and various household items, we will then go out and buy food and a few other necessities and drop it off at their house and pray for them and seek to show them the love of Christ.

The Final Week:

Sunday we will go and serve alongside the Hospital Ministry where we will pray for those in the hospital. It’s a cool ministry and a great way for the students to get outside of their own world and see that there are so many hurting people who need Christ’s comfort and love to be shown to them.

Tuesday, our plan is to take a bus and go and do an outreach in one of our favorite outreach locations, Tororo. It’s only a couple of hours drive away and the ministry there is raw and awesome. We brought a small team there about a year ago and it was at that location that students stayed around in the rain to finish hearing the teachings and to give their lives to Christ. The church doesn’t even have a building but they meet under an awesome tree, and it’s just such a cool location for real ministry.

The rest of the week will be like the week before: How to Study your Bible and we will bless a second family.

It’s going to be a busy couple of weeks but I’m truly so excited to see what God is going to do! Please lift these events up in prayer, because if God is not at the center of them we doing them in vain.

Monday, August 12, 2013

To Save a Life

I’m going to be honest… I struggle with Christian movies. There I said it… I know I’m terrible, but really I just can’t get into them most of the time for various (mainly technical) reasons. But one that although I may have qualms with the caliber of acting and such, the message has struck me and it continues to even years after seeing it (I think I've even blogged about it before). The movie, To Save a Life starts with a teenage kid walking into a youth group and the youth pastor coming up to him and asking the typical questions that all of us in youth ministry have all asked at some point or another, “where do you go to school?” “what grade are you in?” etc… Then the youth pastor gets distracted and walks off and forgets to come back. Low and behold this kid was really hurting and his visit to that youth group was his last attempt to find hope and a sense of belonging. Within minutes we find out that the kid went home and committed suicide. (enter pit in your stomach)

In dealing with youth both in the States and here in Uganda, I have reached a couple of conclusions: 1) teenagers are quite possibly THE best actors on the planet, 2) many of them are dealing with stuff beyond our wildest nightmares, and 3) We’ve all got a past and a story to tell. In previous posts I’ve written about how I’ve learned the importance of learning the names of the kids who walk through the doors and are a part of the youth group. There is a HUGE challenge in pouring into the students that are in a formal ministry. They desperately need to be some place where they feel like they belong, that they’re valued, and that that they’re safe to be who God made them to be.

One thing though is that it’s beginning to hit me is that I have a group of about 30 students who I get to meet with on a regular basis, I know their names, where they go to school, what grade they’re in, what they want to be when they grow up, what their favorite food is, and what even their favorite football (soccer) team is. That’s not bad… but when you live in a town with THOUSANDS of students just like mine, that 30 just doesn’t seem like enough…. You know what I mean? I love, love, love my students. They have my heart and are my most favorite people on the planet next to my husband and my family, but there are so many of their friends and even more than that, there are so many of their enemies that they tell me about and as they share with me about them I realize that there’s a lot more to that problem person than the fact that they’re a bully, or a jealous manipulative girl. I’m not excusing the sin, but really the people my students tell me about are not Christians. They don’t know the sanctifying redeeming work Jesus’ unfailing love can bring in their lives. All they see are the problems in life, the fact that their dad doesn’t want to have anything to do with them, that their family doesn’t have enough money for rent and they don’t know where they’re going to go, etc… Each one of these kids has a story and more than that God knows their story and loves them and desperately wants them to love Him back.

My job, not just as a missionary, but just someone who is called by God to speak into the lives of students, is to point both the kids who are a part of our youth group and those who are so lost they don’t even want to come, to Him. I just pray that I would recognize the opportunities He brings me, that I wouldn’t waste them, or be too “busy” for them.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The woes of 3rd world youth ministry

So it all started with me trying to pump up our youth group with a few new ideas... I was all stoked on them... I thought they would work beautifully...and well.... I was wrong. Our youth group has been booming but lately the life has kind of been sucked out, we've hit a rut... a big one. I've done the necessary personal reflection on whether there may be sin in my life that is hindering the ministry, but other than my over reaction out bursts that I'm trying to control, I'm doing pretty ok. So then that leads me to the next step, looking at what changes God may want to implement because like I said in the first sentence of this post, it was kind of all me. You know the ideas weren't bad, but they maybe weren't what God had in mind. It's been all this figurative spinning of wheels that got me on the quest that I now find myself embarking upon... HOW TO HAVE A HEALTHY, MATURE, THRIVING YOUTH MINISTRY IN THE HEART OF AFRICA.

I've been online looking at what the different sites have to offer, there are some killer sites about how to do ministry in the States... like really if only those sites were around 10 years ago. But well... they don't really cut it with ministry here. You face a whole other gamut of problems and situations. For instance, youth group is on Saturdays at 4... but these days more and more of my students are having school all day on Saturday, and even if they get out by 4, by then they're exhausted. Not to mention, that even the students who don't have school sometimes don't even reach until 4:30 because well... this is Africa. Well, why don't you change the day then? You might ask... well, Sundays are their only day to get stuff done, to wash their uniforms, help around the house, and study... they also like going for main service. We also can't do it later on Saturday because absolutely no teenager in the town of Jinja owns a car, so they all have to be able to walk home (some as many as a couple of miles) before it gets dark.

I go into the schools and teach, I'm hoping to maybe add another one next term that is a school more of my students go to, but we'll see. At Jinja SS, I get 45 min twice a week with the students who come but at my other two schools: loco primary and St. Peters, I only get 15 minutes to teach due to time constraints... Ughh! I'm blessed to get in the school at all, but really to make disciples, you need more than 15min a week.

I read awesome articles about how you need to pour into your students, invest in them in small groups and one-on-one discipleship... that's great... when you have evenings and weekends that they're available to do that. Can you tell I'm a little frustrated? I know God knows and that these students are His and He has a plan on how to pour into them... I just wish I knew what it was... now.

All this to say, please be lifting up our youth ministry in prayer. Be praying for us to have vision... His vision. Pray for us to make plans... His plans. Pray that we execute them in a way that glorifies Him. Pray that we don't get so hung up on the numbers that we get discouraged but instead focus on the one. Pray for creativity. Pray for God to raise up other people with the passion for the youth of Jinja we can join arms with. It's times like this, that the 17 million goal seems unreachable, but again I have to remind myself, "with God, NOTHING is impossible."

The woes of 3rd world youth ministry

So it all started with me trying to pump up our youth group with a few new ideas... I was all stoked on them... I thought they would work beautifully...and well.... I was wrong. Our youth group has been booming but lately the life has kind of been sucked out, we've hit a rut... a big one. I've done the necessary personal reflection on whether there may be sin in my life that is hindering the ministry, but other than my over reaction out bursts that I'm trying to control, I'm doing pretty ok. So then that leads me to the next step, looking at what changes God may want to implement because like I said in the first sentence of this post, it was kind of all me. You know the ideas weren't bad, but they maybe weren't what God had in mind. It's been all this figurative spinning of wheels that got me on the quest that I now find myself embarking upon... HOW TO HAVE A HEALTHY, MATURE, THRIVING YOUTH MINISTRY IN THE HEART OF AFRICA.

I've been online looking at what the different sites have to offer, there are some killer sites about how to do ministry in the States... like really if only those sites were around 10 years ago. But well... they don't really cut it with ministry here. You face a whole other gamut of problems and situations. For instance, youth group is on Saturdays at 4... but these days more and more of my students are having school all day on Saturday, and even if they get out by 4, by then they're exhausted. Not to mention, that even the students who don't have school sometimes don't even reach until 4:30 because well... this is Africa. Well, why don't you change the day then? You might ask... well, Sundays are their only day to get stuff done, to wash their uniforms, help around the house, and study... they also like going for main service. We also can't do it later on Saturday because absolutely no teenager in the town of Jinja owns a car, so they all have to be able to walk home (some as many as a couple of miles) before it gets dark.

I go into the schools and teach, I'm hoping to maybe add another one next term that is a school more of my students go to, but we'll see. At Jinja SS, I get 45 min twice a week with the students who come but at my other two schools: loco primary and St. Peters, I only get 15 minutes to teach due to time constraints... Ughh! I'm blessed to get in the school at all, but really to make disciples, you need more than 15min a week.

I read awesome articles about how you need to pour into your students, invest in them in small groups and one-on-one discipleship... that's great... when you have evenings and weekends that they're available to do that. Can you tell I'm a little frustrated? I know God knows and that these students are His and He has a plan on how to pour into them... I just wish I knew what it was... now.

All this to say, please be lifting up our youth ministry in prayer. Be praying for us to have vision... His vision. Pray for us to make plans... His plans. Pray that we execute them in a way that glorifies Him. Pray that we don't get so hung up on the numbers that we get discouraged but instead focus on the one. Pray for creativity. Pray for God to raise up other people with the passion for the youth of Jinja we can join arms with. It's times like this, that the 17 million goal seems unreachable, but again I have to remind myself, "with God, NOTHING is impossible."

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Unanswered Prayers

When Davis and I had our first dance, we got in touch with our inner 1990 and danced to Unanswered Prayers by Garth Brooks (100% Davis’ suggestion I promise). It was so funny how he suggested it because honestly that song couldn’t ring more true for me as much as it did for him. I look back at my life of crushes and heartbreaks of liking someone and praying fervently that they would fall head over heels for me. I over analyzed and manipulated and tried to rock some strategery to try and make them see that I was the girl of their dreams (it’s embarrassing to admit, but all you girls reading understand what I’m talking about). Only to hear of them asking out a friend of mine or having that awkward conversation of “you’re like a sister to me”. It hurt… bad. I would see friends with their boyfriends and spouses and basically ask the question “what’s wrong with me!?” (don’t answer that one… ). Those “unanswered prayers”, God was responding no to because He knew He had a much better plan than what I thought was right for my life. The guys of my past are all great guys and I now see them being great husbands and fathers and they’re still good friends of mine, but they weren’t the one that God had made for me.

Now as I lie next to my husband at night after a whopping 4 months of marriage ☺ I still find myself looking at Davis and can’t believe I have such an amazing man that I know God made for me and me for him. I could go through the gamut of things Davis does that makes him so awesome but I don’t want to get all the husbands out there in trouble for not doing them. But really… I didn’t know guys like Davis existed out there. I always would tell people that chick flicks set us girls up for unrealistic expectations… which in some ways is true, but this is a note of encouragement to all of you who feel like your “love life” is full of “unanswered prayers”. When you wait for God to bring you the guy He made for you, he’s way better than any Ryan Goessling or Nicholas Sparks character (as hard as that may be to believe). God was saying “no” because He loved me so much and knew He had something way better in store for me… someone unimaginably more than I could ever ask for or imagine.

My husband is not perfect, I know that, but he’s perfect for me. There is no man on this planet who could handle all my “Kelliness” with the sass, the anger, the jokes, the passion with such patience and strength like my husband can. He’s definitely “the better half” as much as you might try to offer the “no… Kelli, you’re both amazing!” One day you will meet him and realize I’m not being overly humble it’s just a fact… I’ve done the research and it’s true. He makes me more into the woman God made me to be and is a huge way God is softening so many of my rough edges so I can more effectively do His work. So take heart friends… don’t be discouraged or dismayed at the “no’s”. His ways are AWESOMELY and INFANITELY above our ways. And those “unanswered prayers” are God’s way of showing you “I’ve got this taken care of”.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The one...

Today as I was doing a Bible study with a friend of mine in the book of Acts we were looking at Lydia’s conversion, and it hit me more than usual…God is all about the one. He sent Philip to the Ethiopian eunuch, he sent Peter to Cornelius, he had Paul and Silas imprisoned to minister to the jailer, and the list goes on and on. Yes we read about Peter preaching and thousands getting saved but more often in the book of Acts you see God calling someone to minister to one person or family.

I wish more of us could recognize what that looks like in ministry today. I’m not saying there’s no place for large-scale, even stadium evangelism, but what I am saying is it’s the one where disciples are made. When you personally get in the trenches, pray with, teach, counsel and answer questions… that’s where you see the growth. One man does the sowing of the seed (i.e. evangelism) and the other tills the soil (i.e. discipleship) and all of that is what comprises the beauty of the body of Christ.

Sometimes those of us in ministry can find ourselves discouraged if we’re only looking at numbers, when really you have one or two solid people… that’s maybe the only reason why God called you to that ministry. We need to not allow our expectations of “success” infringe upon really recognizing what God is doing and His faithfulness to achieve what He had set out to use us to do.

This is not a deep or profound post just simply an encouragement in sharing what God was showing me in order to encourage those of you who maybe feel a bit like you’re in a “Jeremiah ministry”, or where you don’t see large quantities of people show up for your ministry. It’s also to encourage those who aren’t in “formal” ministry and working a 9-5 job and simply meet someone for coffee once a week… that too is priceless ministry in God’s eyes. We need to stop gauging our “success” as servants and disciples by comparing ourselves to others, that’s what God called them to do… not us. We all have our own callings, one is not more valuable than the other. We are called to look not to the right or to the left but straight ahead faithfully doing what God has called us to do with all our might and make disciples be it to ten thousand people in a stadium, ten people in a classroom, or just one person in a coffee shop.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

26....what a year!

It is the day before June 2nd... I like to frequently remind my parents that June 2nd 1986 was pretty much the best day of their lives because they were blessed with ME! :) Just kidding... ok maybe I really do do that, but just in a joking way, I'm not that self involved... (no comment). Anyways... back to the big 2-6. Last year at this time I had absolutely no idea what the year would bring. It's been an insane year of so many ups and downs my mind really can't process it. And really, it was the year I can say I really grew up in both good and hard ways.

The good part was that I got married the THE most amazing man on this planet... like seriously I have no idea why God allowed me to be blessed with such an amazing husband but He did and I thank Him for it each and every day. We had the surprise of my dad coming in for the wedding and really it was three months ago today that I experienced the happiest day of my life.

With that though we had to deal with the other side of growing up... learning that people aren't always who you thought you were. I have been hurt more this past year by people than I think I've ever been before... people spreading rumors about me, talking behind my back, and just full on betrayal. Not to mention the whole thing we experienced with the thieves just this week. It was a year of loosing my innocence and that naive trusting of everyone. I now watch my back, my words, and basically who I open myself up to. I also am now always questioning if someone is going to rob me as I pass by. It's hard not to become bitter through the ordeals that I've been through this past year, God is definitely teaching me just how much He calls me to love my enemies to bless those who persecute me and to lift them up in prayer. It's been a challenge and I've failed at it a number of times but I'm learning.

God has taught me so so many things this year, mainly about trusting Him and clinging to Him. I've seen Him provide and work in ways that I can't even fathom. He has shown He works far beyond all I could ask for or imagine. And I know these struggles are just a part of life. As I prepare to embark on my 27th year of life, I can't help but wonder what all God has in store for us. The good thing is things change but our God never does... I pray that this year through His Spirit I will be blown away at how He will work in and through my life. I am His servant plain and simple and I can't wait to see what He will bring about.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The story of the thieves!

“Do not store up treasures here on earth … where thieves break in and steal”

Well, I guess it was bound to happen to us at some point and it did… we had thieves. I was coming home from a day of work and badminton, and I had stayed a little longer than planned talking with someone. As I got home, all I was thinking about was how I should get my roast going if we want it to be tender (the domestic problems that plague the mind of a wife ☺ ). As I unlocked the front door I noticed that I could see the back window of our guest bedroom was open. Now, we had a lady come and clean today so I thought maybe she had left it open to air out or that maybe Davis left it open to do some work so I called him while he was at volleyball practice and asked if he left the window open… he said no. Then as I started to look, I realized that some things weren’t right in the guest room, they looked a little more disheveled than usual. I then looked in our living room, the door was closed and the TV was there so I thought we were maybe ok. Then I opened our bedroom door… and nope! Everything was thrown everywhere. Everything was pulled out of our closet and our bed was messed up. They had been on the hunt, that’s for sure. I even had a present that was wrapped and they unwrapped it and even tore the present to see if we were hiding anything of value there. I called Davis in a panic telling him we had thieves and asked him to come home right away. I was too freaked out to do any more investigation so I just waited outside for him to come.

When he came he took a look and we discovered the main things they took were our iPod and iPad. And then as we cleaned everything up, I also realized they took my lamp that clamps on to our bed and some of my favorite clothes! We realized that they had been there when I came home because they left in a hurry and really didn’t take much. The general consensus from us, our neighbor and friends who came by was that they were organizing to pack everything up and it seems they thought it was Wednesday because that’s when we’re gone late, that’s why they were taking our time. They ate banana bread and our bread rolls, drank a couple of sodas, and even took my yoghurt and a bite out of my precious velveeta cheese (needless to say that’s in the trash now)! As they were running away, I had heard something in the banana trees by our house but I thought it was just some kids who were playing like they sometimes do, but then come to realize it was the thieves. They even took our milk and spilled some along the way as they were leaving.

One thing we learned too, is that for thieves one of their MOs is to steal everything and torch the house afterwards so people think they lost everything to a fire instead of it getting stolen. We found that our thieves had brought a whole package of matchboxes and it seems that was their intent as well. I just truly praise God more than I can say that I came home when I did, otherwise we would be missing a whole heck of a lot more things than just a couple of electronics and clothes. The good news is we still have our passports, computer, camera, and money… my husband is a genius in how careful he is about what he does with valuable things!

Last night, I was definitely freaking out, feeling unsafe and just violated basically. But we had someone stay the night to be an extra set of eyes and ears in case the thieves came back and I know a lot of prayers have been going on around the world for us to have peace. Right now, I’m just angry! I can’t believe people would do something like that just to get a little money! It seems like they are from around here and so Davis is currently working on trying get some tracking dogs so these guys won’t do this again to us or to anyone else.

Of course, this morning in my quiet time I was in Psalm 139, what a perfect Psalm for this situation… God is here with us and knows all that’s going on, we’re in the best hands we could be in. Then as I was reading in Luke, of course it was the passage about loving your enemies… so I guess I’ll be a good little girl and listen to what Jesus tells me and pray for these guys… pray that they would feel the conviction of their sin and come to repentance, although my flesh wants them to have the tar beaten out of them and to spend at least 10 years in one of Uganda’s fine correctional facilities.

Anyways, there's the story for ya. Thank you everyone for the prayers. Continued prayers for protection would be much appreciated. And I just have to say we have some awesome friends who sent texts/called/and e-mailed and even some who came and are coming to try and help make our home more secure! I guess the conclusion of the matter is... OUR GOD IS SO SO GOOD!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Getting out of neutral

In ministry leadership... a lot of times it's easy to get stuck. You do the same thing day in and day out. It's clock work, people can basically bet on what the program's going to look like. Although I've just started back with the youth group, I've come to realization that we need to shake things up a bit. Yes, my students are amazing... yes, they know their Bibles better than many adults... yes, they're growing in being servants... but I know they have more in them. There's one thing I want that God has placed a burden in my heart for these students... and that's for them to be PASSIONATE.

I want them to crave God's Word, I want them to eat it up and meditate upon it and have it living in and through them. I want them to live boldly in the sea of luke warm carnal Christians who claim to know Christ but in their hearts they are far from them. I want them to shine brightly among their friends who are Muslims and Hindu and show them Jesus. I want them to esteem others, even their enemies, above themselves. Basically... I want them to be disciples... and not disciples of Kelli or Calvary Chapel Jinja... but true disciples of Christ. Where no matter where they go they are able to know the truth and share it with others and stand firm on their own.

My vision for youth ministry is to disciple the 17 million youth in Uganda... but really what needs to happen is my students to go and make disciples and then those disciples to make more disciples... Our youth group consists of 30ish students a week... Jesus rocked the world with 12 disciples. I'm praying our 30 students will take Uganda by storm and truly show them Jesus!

Some of the ways we're planning on achieving this goal are:

- Implementing sort of mini-ministries to get them involved in serving (i.e. greeters, pre-service game organizers, set up crew, invite team, etc...)
- Challenging them to outline a chapter of the Bible a day (main theme, people, events, how to apply it)
- Taking an outreach offering to give then ownership of how we get out into the community
- Question time once a month
- More small group times
- Student-led devotional before service

Please keep us in prayer, that we persevere with this goal. That we stand firm against what the enemy will try to throw at us to de-rail this desire, and that those of us leading would set the example and practice what we preach.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

"Watch your life and doctrine closely..."

Those were Paul's wise words to Timothy, the young pastor who maybe felt a little bit overwhelmed by the task ahead of him.

Today we began a class for the youth group students to teach them how to effectively share God's truth with those around them. I've been hearing more and more from them that their friends recognize they know their Bible and are asking to teach them... my students just aren't confident enough to teach. So based off of that knowledge as well as recognizing just how many awful teachers there are out there that people are flocking to, God opened the doors for us to begin this class. It's basically a hybrid of Principles of Preaching and Inductive Bible Study. Throughout the next two weeks, the students will be tearing apart passages and then explaining them and how to apply it to the lives of those who listen.

Today's introduction included going through Matthew 23 and Jesus' rebuke of the Pharisee's hypocrisy and how they don't practice what they preach. The challenge was to be sure not to fall into that trap and to recognize what James says that teachers will be judged more harshly. The students seemed to enjoy the different activities today and I'm really just figuring things out as we go, but I'm excited to see what these students will do with having a little more ammunition in their arsenal to "go into all the world and make DISCIPLES".

Monday, May 13, 2013

Teenagers, and lines, and tug of war… OH MY!

This past week Davis, Rogers, and I took 28 students to Entebbe for a youth conference. We left bright and early on Tuesday morning as we loaded up on a coaster (mini bus). It took us just around 3 ½ hours to get there and of course we kept “muzungu time” and most of the other students didn’t get there until after the officially allocated registration time, but we were there and ready to see what God was going to do.

Calvary Entebbe had a team in from the States as well as some interns and their church staff to help run things. It was amazing seeing how many people were around for registration, handing out t-shirts (yeah, they got t-shirts!) and showing the students to where they would stay. It’s amazing seeing a huge group of people helping put on such a huge event. But it really amazed me thinking about just how awesome the staff is that we have in Jinja! When we put on events of that magnitude God shows us that HE can “win the victory with many or with few”. Sometimes He requires an army as vast as the number of sands on the seashore, other times He has you use the bare minimum in order to see it’s not by might or by (man) power, but by His Spirit that things can get accomplished.

The afternoon was taken up by their first round of team games. Each student was given a certain color shirt (yellow, blow, green, or red) and that was his or her team for the conference. (GENIUS!) Every afternoon during the conference they did their rotation in the sports. They rotated between basketball, volleyball, soccer, or random games (i.e. kickball and capture the flag). The conference was concluded by one big ol’e tug of war tournament. The students were exhausted afterwards to say the least but I think they had a blast getting to try out their skills in the different sports. I sat on the sidelines and took pictures… I figured me + rain + sports = dangerous and I wasn’t really ready to be in another cast while trying to lead them ☺

The first full day the students had a morning dedicated to a group that focused on getting kids to make the right choices. They taught mainly about purity and STDs. The other mornings were taken up by different sessions of speakers. One guy was a prisons pastor, another used to be a NY police officer with a gnarly testimony, and another was a camp counselor, all of them from New York. The students seemed to enjoy their teachings on how we are to examine the old ways and walk in them (Jeremiah 6:16).

For me, the conference’s highlight wasn’t necessarily the teachings, but it was my students. In a sea of 250 youth, my students (I felt) shined like the stars. They were servants, humble, played well with others, and blew people away with both their maturity and their Bible knowledge. I was so proud of them! God has done such an amazing job in their lives, equipping them with everything they need for life and godliness. They are pure, self controlled, kind, and definitely producing the fruit of the Spirit. Even though some things maybe didn’t go exactly well, they had discernment and wisdom to know what to do and what wasn’t right. They all blessed me so much getting to spend time with each one of them, and they just made me love them even more through this event.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Back to the grindstone

Any run of the mill guidance counselor when asked, “what should I do for a living?” would most likely give the sage advice of, “Find whatever you would love to do, even if for free, and then find a way to get paid for it…”.

As I’m coming out of my two month break from normal work as I adjusted to married life, I can’t help but yet again scream from the rooftops, “I LOVE MY JOB!!!!” Most people would rejoice at two months off from work… I was finding every possible way to go back early. I ached to be back with my students. I would see them and they would ask when I was coming back and to tell them May 1st seemed just way too far away. Needless to say I may or may not have gotten back a little before that date. The Bible study at Jinja SS and the youth group are just two of my favorite things. I’m so blessed to get to serve these students! You ask anyone who knows them, they would tell you they are AWESOME kids. And it’s true. I’ve seen God work in such cool ways as He grabs a hold of them and they follow Ecclesiastes 12:1, “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth…” He has in many ways placed a protective bubble around them helping them to be “as innocent as doves” even in this ever worsening world.

This next week they go on school holiday for the next month. On the agenda this month will be some of what we did last holiday with having classes throughout the week for them to learn more about their Bibles in more intense ways to make them true disciples with the end result of what Jesus says in John 13:17, “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them”. (emphasis mine).

We will also be taking a group of students to Entebbe for a large youth conference hosted by the Calvary Chapel there. The students are psyched out of their minds at the prospect of getting out of Jinja for a few days and meeting new friends… I am battling the heart palpitations of trying to make sure that they are well supervised and that they don’t bump into “bad company”. Needless to say that’s a prayer request.

We continue to pray that the students will grow in the grace and knowledge of their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and that they would be different from the youth around them (even “Christian” youth). That they would be true doers of the Word. Please just pray for us over this next month as we try to pour into the students in an incredibly concentrated way.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Amazing Race Honeymoon Edition: Part 2

Well… we made it to our hotel. It was a beautiful little resort where everything was pretty average except for the staff. We ended up having the exact amount of money needed to pay for everything. Again, thank you to all who gave to help our honeymoon be extra awesome!

The first full day there, it rained. But really after all that travel, it wasn’t so bad to get to just hang out. The hotel staff arranged for a tour of some coral caves for a decent price and so we took them up on it. It was so cool seeing what God does even deep under the ground. God’s beauty just absolutely amazes me on a almost a daily basis and this one brought a big WOW! I won’t lie though, I had some super fun and exciting bouts with claustrophobia the deeper we climbed into those caves. At one point, I looked back to where we came from the entrance and it was pitch black…gulp! But then I remembered that there is nowhere I can flee from His presence and that helped. That afternoon we were able to partake of the beach. The hotel didn’t have their own beach because of the tide at the actual hotel location, although it is oceanfront. But we were able to take a shuttle 5 minutes away to their private beach and that was really cool… except that I found out how awesome it is to get stung by a jellyfish. That wasn’t so fun. But it was great seeing Davis as he just took it all in and enjoyed the ocean waves. I’m not a big water person anyway, so I was very ok in the observation area ☺

Day two, we decided to go to Stone Town… it’s the old original capital town of Zanzibar. It has awesome history and was the highlight of our trip. We made it there early afternoon and walked around basically checking out the history and the art. We went to the old palace for the sultan and it was just so cool actually being in a palace… I’ll admit I’m pretty sure that was a first for me. And I won’t lie, all I could think about when I heard the word “sultan” was “ALADDIN!” We Finished off the day with watching the absolutely amazing sunset from the balcony of a restaurant at the top of a hotel. It was so cool!

Day three, we partook of the glories of the honeymoon package. Part of that package was that we were able to take a little boat to a private beach across the bay. The day was perfect and the trip took about two hours but it was amazing to take in the sights of people wading through the water to fish and also collect a certain type of grass to sell. We also were able to see some AMAZING starfish. I had never really seen starfish in the wild so that was way too cool… we also saw lots and lots of jellyfish. That was cool to see, but definitely took away any of my desire to ever really get in the water. The beach was not really swimmable so we just enjoyed a rather large twin bed hammock and then the best food we had on the trip.

Day four consisted of just some chill couple time. We went to the beach but it was way too hot so we went back had some lunch and just hung out. That evening we had the rest of our perks of being a honeymoon couple with me getting a massage (it was fabulous!) and then getting to use the Jacuzzi and that night we had a seafood dinner (although I must say it was not all it was cracked up to be, and I was a bit disappointed but still…)

Day five was the day we left. We had breakfast and boarded the daladala and headed into town to load up on the ferry. The bad part was the daladala gave us the wrong instructions on where we should be let off so we ended up having to walk a couple of miles with all of our stuff trying to get to the ferry port just as it was about to rain. We get to the port, and this time our ferry was probably older than we were so needless to say I promptly took the motion sickness medicine. We then got to Dar es Salaam and tried to find our guest house we booked since the bus wouldn’t leave until the morning. This was yet another part of our amazing race. On the website it looked close to the bus terminal… nope! It ended up costing over double what we had anticipated just to get to the guesthouse. To make things even more fun, I had put the money in my front pocket to pay for our night’s stay but when I went to pay, it was gone. I assume it fell out when I tried to take my phone out… and we didn’t have any more money on hand. But at least the guesthouse was totally accommodating and even brought us to the ATM in the wee hours of the morning to get the money for our stay and to take us to the bus park.

Our trip home, we decided to take the way through Kenya (it was just one 24 hour ride instead of a 24 hour ride, staying the night somewhere and then another 12 hour ride). The elections in Kenya had finished and everything seemed to be pretty peaceful. The trip home was gloriously uneventful and we got back home on Sunday afternoon.

It really was a trip of a lifetime where I got a crash course in submission recognizing that I really don’t know all the right answers and how I need to yield to my husband’s better judgment. It was a great trip and I praise God for His awesome provision for it and learning that my husband is even more amazing than I thought.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Amazing Race Honeymoon Edition Part 1: The Journey

I’ve reached the conclusion that every newlywed couple should embark upon a honeymoon like ours… it can be summed up in one word: ADVENTURE.

But before I get into the details (don’t worry… not too much detail ☺ )… I just have to take this time to thank everyone who contributed to our honeymoon registry. Without it, we would have been having our honeymoon at our little house because we so didn’t have the money to pull of the dream honeymoon that God provided through everyone’s support.

Ok, so back to our “amazing race”… it began here in Jinja at the Kampala Coach office – great customer service by the way, and they have seats that recline and head rests that actually give your head some support… although their buses may or may not be older than I am. We decided to go to Zanzibar via Kigaali, Rwanda and then through Tanzania for two reason: 1) both Davis and I had already been to Kenya and wanted to see some place new and 2) the Kenyan elections were just finishing and last time there were major riots so we thought we’d spare ourselves that “adventure” until maybe the way back. Ok so there we go… the journey there…. Like I said, it began in Jinja on Thursday afternoon, they then had us board a taxi (they paid) and had us head to Kampala because they didn’t have any buses passing through Jinja because of before mentioned Kenyan elections. So here starts the tally for the number of hours it took us to get there – 2 hours to Kampala – We get to Kampala and take bodas to the bus loading area for Kampala coach. Word of he wise – use the restroom before you get to the bus station, don’t ask me how I know, but I’m just sayin… Finally at 9pm (we left Jinja at 4) we board our bus.

We traveled for 12 hours and reached Kigali at 9 the next morning. We then were informed the next bus for Dar Es Salaam doesn’t leave until 5:30 the next morning so the very nice guy from the bus company suggested a guest house close to the bus park we could stay at and gave us some pointers about getting around Kigali. We checked into our “hotel” and we’re still not quite sure if they’ve had any other customers… ever. But it had a bed and running water (in the evening after they fixed it) so we couldn’t complain. We then decided to check out Kigali and see if what we’ve heard about it was true… we were (ok more like I was) like such a little villager, in shock at the modern way they do things. Even the bodas all have to wear helmets and only take one passenger who also has to wear a helmet (in case you’re not familiar, that’s NOT the case here in Uganda). It’s also VERY clean. There are police everywhere so everyone behaves most of the time too. All in all, it was a nice little city.

Bright and early the next morning we wake up and head to the bus park. We get on our bus that’s in even worse condition than our Kampala coach… and this time our trip will be 24+ hrs. As we begin, the bus starts zipping around the Rwandan mountains and I seriously felt like I was on a roller coaster, it was at that point I praised God for Bev and her giving me motion sickness medicine. As we passed through Rwanda, it was absolutely beautiful and full of mountains. At the Rwanda/Tanzania border, they had an awesome river and waterfall. It was amazing the change between Rwanda and Tanzania how it was almost as soon as you passed the border. In the midst of our 24 hour amusement park ride, I had a little bit of a claustrophobia/panic attack as NOTHING was familiar and I had no control of anything… at all… Davis being the very fabulous husband that he is, agreed that I should try reading my Bible to get me through that little “episode”. Then, it was just so clear, God whispered to me that Davis was a tangible expression of His heart of wanting to protect/care for/comfort/provide for me and I needed to trust Him and also Davis. It was quite a cool lesson for a new wife to learn.

In Tanzania, you’re not allowed to drive between the hours of midnight and 4am and so the bus pulled over at a little roadside town at 12:30 and we all were able to get out, find food (at 12:30) and figure out how to get a little sleep. We got out and there was this little disco that was rather hopping and outside there were a couple of food stands. One of which was an old man making eggs with French fries in them… talk about the perfect midnight snack. It’s one of my favorite memories of our travels, thinking about sitting there with the music, sipping tea, and eating that fabulous Tanzanian fast food. We then brushed our teeth like good little children and got a little sleep and 4am we were off again.

Finally by 10am the next morning we pulled into Dar. We took a taxi as Davis practiced his Swahilli and we headed to the ferry port. We paid $5 extra for the “first class” tickets as I was warned the ferry trip could be a little gnarly. We boarded our ferry and it was nice and new and sat in our cushy first class, air-condtioned seats. I took my handy dandy motion sickness medicine and we were off again. In the midst of my semi-conciousness (partly because of the medicine and part because of the trip), they had Madagascar 2 playing and so needless to say, I managed ok and my adventurous husband spent most of his time checking out the view from up top.

By 2pm Sunday we landed in Zanzibar. We (Davis) got us a Taxi and we drove another hour and reached the hotel. Ok so now class… let’s do some math… We left Jinja at 4pm Thursday… we reached our hotel at 3pm on Sunday… that’s right folks… 71ish hours to get there. But it was very cool even in the midst of motion sickness and freak outs, we were able to see some awesome East African countryside. I also learned I could totally and completely trust Davis’ wisdom as he was right pretty much 100% of the time as we encountered various situations and I was w…. well never mind ☺ Needless to say I learned a lot. And that’s just our journey there. It was an awesome adventure for us and definitely not something we will ever forget.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


I've always heard grace defined as "unmerited favor"... I can't help but have the breath taken away from me at the grace God has shown me over this past week... and really this past year.

When I tell people about Davis, I tell them that he is grace in the flesh, because I so don't deserve him. He's patient, strong, kind, humble, and basically perfection (ask anyone who knows him). I don't deserve him but I praise God for me getting to call him my husband (in just a few short days).

If that wasn't enough, this past Sunday I experienced God's grace in a way I'm still recovering from. First, a miracle in itself happened to get my mom to come here to Uganda for my wedding. My mom had never been past Mexico and then she set out 11,000 miles to come and be with her baby girl on the biggest day of her life. Leading up to her coming, she daily had reports of God's goodness in providing for certain parts of her trip (immunizations, ticket, clothes, etc...). I was already in awe of the outpouring of love so many people were showing towards myself and my parents through this time.

The thing is... God wasn't done yet... "He is able to do exceedingly more than we could ask or imagine" I NEVER thought it was possible for my daddy to make it here to Africa for the wedding. I honestly don't even think I really prayed about it, it seemed that impossible to me (yes I know my lack of faith is sickening). I thought that between finances and his health it was just not possible for him to come to a 3rd world country with who knows what types of diseases. But God had other plans.

As I got to the airport to pick up my mom, the butterflies in my stomach were going full force. I kept staring at the monitor and pretty much had a coronary when it showed "arrived" next to my mom's flight. Then a few minutes later I get a call from her asking where to go. I thought "oh no! that's why I didn't want her to travel alone!" Seriously over an hour after the plane arrived and I think I chewed my finger nails into oblivion and may need to have blood pressure medication for the next 3 weeks to recover, Davis and Bev gave me the sign she was coming (they worked out the sign because I was going crazy staring at people coming out from the customs area). I couldn't believe it as I saw my mom push her little cart out that with an unexpected few amount of bags. I rushed over, gave her a huge hug, cried and then we went over to the side. As I was crying as she and Davis met and hugged for the first time, I asked her if she got all her bags, and she said, "just one more is coming", and I look and my eyes seriously couldn't believe that they were seeing my dad pushing a cart loaded down with trunks. I broke down in a definite gnarly ugly cry as I just buried my face in my daddy's chest and hugged him and never wanted to let go. All of my dreams of having my daddy walk me down the aisle, the pictures of when he first sees his little girl in her wedding dress, the father daughter dance, could all happen now! I just couldn't believe it!

My parents later told me about all the miracles God worked to get my dad here through the provision of funds to the dr's ok. It was unbelievable what God did in order to get my daddy here for the big day.

On Sunday evening, I just still couldn't verbalize even the thanks to God for what had happened! I didn't deserve it... not in the slightest. I'm not trying to be overly humble or anything, I just flat out didn't/don't deserve what has been taking place. But that's where I get to rejoice in His grace, He loves blowing His kids away and He definitely did a good job at doing that with this daughter of His!

I PRAISE HIM I PRAISE HIM I PRAISE HIM!!!! For the amazing blessing He has given me in having both of my parents here... Our God is so so good!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

This Past Holiday

Here in Uganda, the school year begins in February and ends in late November/Early December. Therefore, the students "summer break" so to speak is during the Christmas holiday. Which means it's 2 months worth of me praying about and trying to figure out what exactly I should do to make the best use of the opportunity of the holiday where I don't have to share them with school.

In December, we kind of took it easy because the students were busy preparing for the Christmas program, but Davis, three students, and myself decided to undertake the re-painting of the church. I'll admit I thought it was going to be a little less invasive than it was, but the bottom line is that there is now no longer three different paint colors randomly smeared on the walls of the church. I must confess I felt rather blessed having my fiance be a professional artist, he made sure it was done right and it looked great!

And then came January... dun dun dun
As I've mentioned before, January was planned to keep the kids busy nearly every single day. Tuesdays we had a special topic of discussion/teaching. Wednesdays we learned about different religions (Islam, Mormonism, Jehovah's Witnesses, Hindus, and Catholics) and how we can witness to them. Thursdays we went through a theology topic (the sinfulness of man, the Trinity, heaven and hell, angels and demons). Fridays we had a fellowship day where we would just do something crazy (game day, water play day, field trip to the source, and a swimming day. Saturday we did a couple different outreach/service events. We went to 2 orphanages, a local slum area, and then we tried to do an event here at the church as well. The deal with the Saturday events is that they were to be planned almost entirely by the students. They had to do everything from come up with the schedule, make a shopping list and shop, and even run the event, I basically just taught.

I will be honest, January quite possible did me in. Doing all of this solo, was a bit more of un undertaking than I had anticipated, but I pray the students grew closer to each other and more important than that, they grew closer to Christ during that time.

Now, the students are starting back to school and I just ask for prayers that they would be a light in their schools. Pray that God would help them to boldly make known the mystery of the Gospel. Pray that God would help them to flee from temptation. And pray that God would help them to love Him more than anything or anyone else.


Packing up and moving everything except basically my clothes to the new house I will share with my soon to be new husband has definitely brought a whirlwind of memories as I go through everything. I’m going through goodbye cards from when I left ABQ 4 ½ years ago, birthday cards, “just saying hi” cards, pictures, and journal entries. It’s just amazing all that has gone on in life in just a few years. Honestly, it feels like I’ve grown up in that time.

I came out here a brand-new college graduate who really hadn’t seen much of the world nor realized just what a big world outside of my little sphere was out there. I came out having to learn the hard way (and honestly still kind of am continuing to learn) the universe doesn’t revolve around me. I used to think I had my stuff pretty well together for a girl in her early twenties, but then as I look back on all the dross that came up through the trials I went through, I realize I definitely was a far cry from having it all together.

I read about past crushes and hopes and dreams and reading about my laments as I approached my 25th birthday thinking I may never find “Mr. Right”. Now I look at the man God has given me and I can’t help but echo Garth Brook’s song “Unanswered Prayers”. We go through life, especially early adulthood thinking that we know what we want and when it all should happen. We pray and hope with all our hearts that God’s will is our will. I can tell you that what I’m reading in my journals is a far cry from anything that I ever thought would be a part of my life, but I can see how God has used those things, sometimes painful, and sometimes even embarrassing, to humble me and shape me into the woman that I’m becoming.

I think of how the pastor and author Warren Weirsbe compared life to a tapestry where on one side you see all the messy knots of thread but on the other side it makes an amazing picture. I praise God for these memories, and I look forward to the new ones yet to come. I also am so thankful for everyone out there who made up those memories, those whose cards I’m reading and some I’m still keeping in a little wooden box my cousin made for me. People, friends, family, and sometimes even foes make us who we are. Thank you all for being a part of my past and I look forward to seeing what God has got in store for the future.

Thursday, January 31, 2013


Preparing for our wedding, Davis and I entered into it anticipating on paying for everything ourselves so as not to place the burden on either one of our families. Also, here in Uganda they have "wedding meetings", getting people to sponsor certain parts of the wedding, that was just not something we felt we wanted to do but instead we just wanted to bless those attending the wedding and thanking them for the role they've played in our lives. But yet again, my life verse rings true "His ways are not our ways" they're so far above them.

Over the past few months, Davis and I have been absolutely overwhelmed by the support (both financial, emotional, and prayer) from people from around the world have given as we start this new chapter of our lives. People who have given to help my mom make it out here for the big day, family members working tirelessly to try and raise money, friends giving checks with the specific purpose of contributing towards the wedding, and even our friends here in Uganda throwing us a surprise "wedding shower" to help raise money for us. All of it has left both of us speechless. You pray, knowing God answers prayers, but always wondering how... and how much He'll bring about. He is truly able to do exceedingly more than we could ever ask for or imagine. And I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank all of you for all of your support, it truly means more to us than you will ever know.

As the countdown is now just a mere month away (YIKES!) we continue to ask for prayers to cover our marriage. That we would glorify God in showing one another the un-conditional love He shows us, that we would understand one another, that we would learn to pick our battles, that we would serve the other above ourselves, that we would constantly keep Christ at the center of our marriage, and that we would be an example of marriage to those around us.

Friday, January 11, 2013

A proud "mama" moment

Some people's whole joy in life is holding babies and playing with small children... yay for them, but not my thing. My crowd is more between the ages of 12-17. It's this age that has my heart in such a crazy powerful way and I'm so blessed that my job is getting to pour into them and witness what God is doing in their lives.

One thing that God has brought about in the past few months, and even more like weeks is several of my students stepping up and taking student leadership roles. For a while I've had two key boys and one key girl who have blown me away with their servant's hearts and I know running a youth group of 30+ kids with all the events we do would be nearly impossible without them. But lately, there's been a whole new crop of students stepping up to the plate and they're blowing my mind with what they do.

This month, we have a full plate for our students with activities everyday Tuesday through Saturday. Saturdays are our days to go "into the world" and do various outreach/service events. Last Thursday, God blessed me with the "eureka!" moment of "hey! I should let the kids plan these events!" So last Friday a group of them sat down and planned our outreach to Loco, a local slum area. They did AMAZING! They had it all worked out, and on a budget of $0. I seriously never had to coach them on how they should move on to another activity or anything, I was honestly rather bored during the whole thing, in a good way :)

Then on Tuesday, they sat down and planned our event for tomorrow which is where we are going to a somewhat overlooked orphanage that has around 30 kids. We have been there a couple of times before and actually found it because one of our students heard about how it was there and how they really didn't have much of anything. This time we had a little more to work with financially so I gave them their budget and time restraints and they came up with the schedule and the shopping list. It's a group of about ten students who really put their brains together to find some cool ways to bless these kids.

This afternoon was our shopping trip to prepare for the event. So I gave them the money, told them to bring back receipts, accompanied them to the grocery store and then basically just sat in the car and waited the rest of the time. They were so cute! (Sorry, I know that's not cool to say about 17 year old boys, but they just were) as they all delegated which items each person would be looking for. Then even though I had a Bible study to get to, the boys decided to continue and finish the shopping list. I struggled not worrying about them, but then realized they were really big boys and I needed to just chill :) What they came back with was just precious (I know, another not cool word choice). They bought 40 pieces of clothes, and all the fixens for a traditional ugandan meal of rice and beans. AND... they even had money left over.

As I saw them come up to the coffee shop where I was meeting my friend for the Bible study, my heart melted. Six teenage boys who now tower over me coming up with these things and waving to us. I'm still recovering from the whole experience. My friend just laughed at me and told me I was like a "proud mama", and honestly I guess it's true. These students are amazing and I'm so so blessed to serve them and pour into them... God amazes me that He allows me to be a part of their lives and see the young men and women He's making them to be.

Friday, January 4, 2013

That none shall perish...

In today's newspaper it talks about how there are 10,000 what we refer to as "Street Kids" here in Uganda. Now, I don't know just how accurate that number is but it definitely seem like there are quite a few, even here in Jinja. God has been doing a lot of work on my heart in regards to these street kids. I used to be bugged by them and really have no compassion for them as liars and beggars. Lately though, especially through the ministry of a friend of mine, my view of them has taken a 180. Although they are dishonest, difficult, and some of them do some very not good things, God still has a plan for them and can redeem them.

Right now, there is a certain boy that God is laying on my heart like none other. His name is Asheraf and is pretty much famous around here for both his shmoozeability and his attitude. For the past few months he's been coming to church with his buddies only to sit outside. Then a few weeks ago he came to youth group with a friend and actually sat through the whole thing. Then this last Wednesday he came to Bible study and both yesterday and today he came to our youth events. He's here with his attitude and questions and I can jut tell that God is trying to get a hold of him! But I also know the enemy is not going down without a fight.

He comes from a Muslim background and has the general Muslim reasons for not surrendering to Christ. He and I have started to spend some time talking about things and processing life. I honestly and truly know God loves him and Jesus has the love for him that he's been missing.

The point of this post is this... he's a bright kid, that if he surrenders to Christ, he's got so much potential of what God could do in and through him. Please keep this kid in prayer. Also pray for my students and I that we would be good witnesses, and also show him the kindness, love, and also firmness that glorifies Christ.


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