Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this : to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. -James 1:27

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A few updates!


The other day I was with the kids and they started shouting 'napoopoo, napoopoo' and pointing at something in the grass. At first it looked like a mouse but it was moving too slow. Then we went closer only to realize it was a baby porcupine. When I asked one of the aunties what we should do, thinking it might be dangerous to the kids, she said, 'Oh, I think that is Jarod’s (a guy who works at LCH) pet. He keeps it in his house.

– ok! of course!


May 20, 2008

One of the coolest things that has happened since I have been in Uganda…

On Friday I was at LCH, playing with the kids, when Betty (one of the workers) came up to me and said, “Natalie, you have a visitor.” I replied, “No I don’t.” and laughed. I am in Africa; it is a little far for anyone to come visit me without me first knowing. Hello! But she kept persisting so I went to the front of the main building and found a young (Ugandan) woman about 18 years old. Still not sure who she was and definitely still not thinking Betty was fooling me, I greeted her and then just paused to wait, a little awkward. Here is how the conversation went:

Me: “Hello, how are you?”

Her: “Fine”


Her: “Stephan sent me to find you.”

Me: “Who?”

Her: “Stephan.”

Me: “Mzungu?” – meaning white person

Her: “Yes”

Me: “What is your name?”

Her: “Nambozo”

At this point I am thoroughly confused because she IS my visitor. I do know a Stephan who works with the group of Americans I have become friends with but me and him are not friends and I was thinking, “Why is Stephan sending her to me? And how does he even remember where I work?” We really have only talked about twice. Then my visitor spoke again…

Her: “ Stephan wrote in a letter to come and find you.”

Ah ha!! It all came together at that point and I don’t remember the last time I stood in amazement at the divine work of the Lord so obviously in my life.

Me: “Wait, are you Aliasa Nambozo?”

Her: “Yes”- with a smile because she can see the light bulb turn on in my head.

Me: “Oh my, it is SO good to see you. I have been wondering how to find you!”- then I proceeded to hug her about 10 times out of sheer joy and excitement.

So, here is the story…. My sweet friend Stephanie Beeler sponsors a girl through Compassion or World Vision and before I left she told me that her girl happens to live in Mbale, of all places in all of Africa! Wow. So I have been carrying Nambozo’s name on a piece of paper in my wallet, wondering how I would ever find her. Maybe I pass her everyday and don’t even know. Well, Steph wrote a letter and said that her friend Natalie was working in Mbale at LCH, so Nambozo has been asking around town if anyone knew where LCH is (remember it is about 30 min outside of town). She went one place she was advised, but it was wrong, so this glorious Friday she tried again and found it. The story gets even better… after talking with her about life, she asked me if I knew where Mbale Secondary School is. Seeing as I pass it everyday and that my “sisters” go there I quickly responded yes. She said that that is her school. I then told her that my sisters, Phoebe and Millicent, go there. She said, “Oh, Phoebe and I are in the same class.” What?!?!?! You are kidding me. What a small world!! God is so good. On top of all this, the same morning I had replied to Steph about an email she sent me about possibly coming to visit this summer to see me and meet Nambozo. God’s timing is so so perfect.

So, I had a visitor, my very own visitor, who came to see just me. That has not happened before and I could not ask for a sweeter surprise!


Other short updates: May 20, 2008

I planted a garden at LCH with the P5’s a while back, but it all got destroyed when the huge drilling trucks came to drill the boar hole. I guess that is more important… but some of the seedlings were transplanted into a different garden. I went to check how things were growing and I saw some squash that seemed about ready to pick, seeing as they were the same size as the ones in the States. Until, I saw the big mama of all zucchini ever know to man. It was seriously as big as my forearm (if that is the area between my wrist and elbow). So I don’t know if it was a freak of nature or if the soil is so fertile that I will become the grower of the largest zucchinis in all of Uganda. We will see…

I have a new housemate!! Her name is Hayley and she is from San Marcos and has one more year of university. She left this morning to go on Safari with the team she came with, but she will be staying at home for the next 8 weeks. From the time I got to spend with her this week, I know I am going to like her. So, praise the Lord for answered prayers of a kindred spirit in the faith. Although the answer is a little different then I was thinking (I was thinking long term, but He was thinking to bless me with short term), I am extremely excited. Here is our first photo together at Sissyi Falls.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Pictures for post below!


May 12, 2008
What a blessed day. Even this morning I was thinking how good things come to those who do things excellently. At first I was thinking of the drivers and cooks that help with missions, how since they did good in their every day job, they are now blessed by consistent work during the summer, but it also applies to today too.

On this wonderful morning, I was accompanied by the top 3 students in each of the classes, along with 9 other teachers and staff. This was the reward "trip" the kids got because they worked the hardest this term and made the best "marks" (aka grades). And what a treat it was. When I arrived at the home I found 18 kids, smartly dressed in their best attire, and ready to hit the town. This in itself is hopefully a motivator for those who were left behind and did school while they saw their friends leave to have fun.

We piled into our faithful blue and white van and were off. From the start there were little whispers of excitement over the road, the bumps in the road, the people passing by, or stories of a previous time they might have ridden in a motorcar. They were excited and their inquisitness was addressed by Teacher Favor, who acted somewhat like a tour guide. I realized that it is the simple things that I take for granted. For example, to ride in a motorcar, or to see a train. The train the kids saw was only 6 cars, but it made a world of a difference to put a concept into a practical. Wow! God is good.

Our first stop was the border between Kenya and Uganda. I will admit i was a little nervious arriving at the border because i didn't carry my passport and I was now feeling unsure as to whether our final desitnation was in Uganda or Kenya. Luckily it was just an educational stop to see where and how the people and cars moved from place to place. They enjoyed standing on the bridge, "no man's land" that was over the river that divided the two countries.

Our time at the border was not long because we had bigger and better to get to. On the way to our final destination we stopped for chappati (like tortillas but thicker) and then drove through a forest that was know for its baboons. Imagine the excitement of the kids as they saw these crazy "baboos" on the road. As we stopped to take a closer look, the nerviousness rose and I heard one of the girls say, "Let's shut all the windows so they can't get in." Well, maybe that girl was me, and it was a valid point because at one point I was trapped with someone leaning over me to the window to hand a baboon an ear of maize. Literally the big papa baboon got on its two legs, came to the window, and reached its hairy baboon arms right towards me. I was not so calm. But none enter in. Though I was later sent to get bananas from Edward's car and as I reached he said, "Now you run back to the van before they realize you have bananas." Oh great! There were many baboons, even 2 mothers that had babies on their bellies.

Once through the babooned forest we continued another hour until we reached a place called Sangalo Beach, our final destination. It is a sand beach on the shore of Lake Victoria. When we first walked near the water you could see the timidness and curiosity in the kids' faces. What are we here for? Can we get closer? Are there animals in the lake? Well, after getting the go-ahead to take off their shoes they went closer. You could see some of their faces now looking really tempted to take the next step from wetting their feet to being totally submerged. Mind you that they were all still dressed in their nice clothes. Well, the ok was given and Naster and Emma were the first brave ones to lead the pack. Eventually the sexes went to different areas of the beach and the clothes came off. What a funny sight to see all these kids with sheer joy on their faces as they splashed in the water in their whity tidy's and pretended to swim. Auntie Nusula even decided to join in and became a fish over the next 3 hours, swimming around and playing with the girls.

To add to the fun of swimming, there was a small fishing boat that came near the shore and asked the kids if they wanted a ride. So all who were brave enough to enter went aboard this little wooden canoe and were paddled out into the water. This is the first time most of the kids, and even the adults, had been on a boat.

Being right at the shore of the 2nd largest fresh water lake in the world, of course we could not leave without having eaten some fish. Expecting to see a whole fish served on my plate, I was greatly surprised when we had fried fillets. I know, lame to mention it, but here all meat, fish, chicken is always cooked and served with bones (which becomes a bit tricky seeing as i don't eat bones) and here comes my main point.... the fish was so delicious and the first time since I have been here that my taste buds have been reminded of my Dad's home cooking (b/c DAD- you are the best cook i know and nothing has even been close to matching you). So I was smiling and my stomach was smiling and all was well. After eating we loaded up and headed back home. What a fun fun day.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

I am still alive

HI there and sorry it has been a while. I know that this post will not really satisfy your desire to know what is going on, but a good post is to come with great photos. THings have been busy here and I want to do the events justice and not just something small. So, take this as a hello and I miss you.

Things to pray for:
- summer missions are here. the first team arrives tonight and there are about 15 other groups coming in the next 3 months.
- renewal in the church, especially among the women and youth ministry

Thanks for staying with me on this journey!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Spiritual Presence

Sometimes it seems that I dont share my deeper thoughts, so here is one:

There is definitely a spiritual presence that is part of daily life here in Uganda. Much more so than in America. First off in America things of faith seem to be hidden, more so a personal faith, or one confined by the church doors. Or maybe faith is public but the absolute truth is covered by a sheet of political correctness. Always watching the words you say or how your neighbor perceives what you do. Are we, as Americans, too cautious of what everyone else will think? Is their opinion more valuable than the Lord’s? Paul writes in Romans 1:16, “for I am not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.” Or maybe we are not ashamed but just don’t care enough. Maybe the fear of the Lord is not so infiltrated through us because the world and technology has allowed us to become dependant upon ourselves. We have what we need and if we don’t have it then we can go and buy it. But really where has it come from or who has given the knowledge of how to create it? Every good and perfect gift comes from above.

At the same time, I am not claiming that the spiritual presence in Uganda is the right spiritual presence. There is an openness and awareness of something bigger than ourselves. That is evident through how many churches seem to be at every other corner. And when I say church I am not necessarily meaning a concreted structure like we think of with pews and a pulpit. And when I say church I am not necessarily even meaning church because many of the thatched roof “churches” that I see might not be worshiping Jesus Christ, the ONLY savior. And the spiritual presence is allowed as a norm even through the presence of other religions, like Islam. Every few hours you hear the Muslim’s call to prayer over the loudspeaker. It is even broadcasted over the radio.

But, as I was walking today and passed by a little thatched roof “church” the overwhelming question came to me, “is this real?” Are they really worshiping the same God as me? Almost every time I pass this church there are people inside praying, usually making some loud noises, whether shouting their prayer or some sort of ordering voice. Sometimes I see a person on the ground. I definitely believe that our “struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Eph 6:12) But at the same time I wonder if all of the spiritual presence that is felt and allowed here is directed towards the same God? The Bible warns that some will come in Jesus’ name and will lure those into a false gospel. Where is this modern day power of healing, or casting out demons, or performing what seems to be a miracle, or speaking in tongues coming from? Is it from the great I AM? Are these people really in touch with THE savior of the world, Jesus, or is their power and prayers coming from something that is only an imitator of Jesus and meant to divert and confuse true worshippers? And if so, how alluring Satan is in his schemes because who doesn’t want to see what seems to be a miracle or healing? Yet if it is not in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ then it is a powerful and scary alternative power source.
So what I know is that although my mind is limited in understanding I have a Father above that knows all and keeps me as a hen keeps her chicks protected under her wings. The truth is there and the Lord reigns above all. I know that I am more than a conqueror through Christ Jesus and that I have an inheritance, by His grace and through my faith, that is incorruptible. So, I praise God that He has revealed and continues to reveal truth to me and that His Spirit convicts me of all unrighteousness, including false doctrine or following. I only pray for more fear, awe, and reverence of the true and living God because the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.

Secret Pleasure

I have a secret pleasure. I know it is silly to even let you know but it is something that I am not proud of but really enjoy. (ha- I have your attention now I know). To my happiness I get to indulge in this secret pleasure every Tues and Thurs. It is not food. And maybe some of you also have the same secret pleasure, but now I am letting everyone know and I am not ashamed…

I have become addicted to American Idol. Ha. And it is so fun to get to watch it with everyone in my house every week. This season is really good. We started from the very beginning interview processes and now are into the serious competition. If I were voting it would be a tough call between David Cook (the rocker) and Jason (with dreads)- who I later heard is an aggie- even better.

I guess that my viewing is behind season with your viewing- well I am pretty sure because this Tuesday it was the show from april 1. You might even know the winner now, but please don’t tell me because tonight they are narrowing down to the top 8 contestants. Ha. I just thought it was funny last night as we were all sitting around, in the dark because the power had gone out, hoping for it to return in the next 15 mins so that we wouldn’t miss American Idol. Who cares about eating in the dark or taking a cold shower because there is no power for the water heater, but we did NOT want to miss the singing. Oh the joys of simple pleasures.