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

Monday, February 23, 2009

Sweet Worship

Sweet worship

Sorry for the delay in posting. I am trying to count my blessings when I start feeling frusterated about the internet situation. I AM grateful to have gotten the chance to post this.

Well, I have settled in, though I don’t feel like I have had a weekend around just to relax yet because the past two weekends I have gone to Kampala at least for part of the time. Last week I began teaching again. This has made my days go by so much faster. Really, I have asked myself numberous times throughout the past week where my day has gone. It seems like I don’t have enough hours in the day to do everything that I want. Teachign is looking a bit different this year. Obviously, needing to follow the Uganda curriculum in regard to time tables, I have worked with the teachers to see where phonics can fit in. So, this term I am teaching all of the P4 and P6 everyday and then P3 twice a week, as opposed to teaching small groups. I still have a few small groups, but mostly I am focusing on the whole class. This is a bit challenging because I am not able to give such personalized attention to areas of need, but I know that God will work out the details. The new head mistress is really wonderful, knowing how to balance beign someone approachable, while also administrating and enforcing requirements. And I am slowly getting to know the new teachers. All in all it seems like a fresh wind has blown in and I am very pleased!! Everyday I hear the little voices singing songs or counting numbers to 99. Ha. It blesses my heart.

This weekend I went with 6 other people to pick up Mama, Pastor, and Dyanna (the new nurse for the clinic at LCH) at the airport. We left SO early in the morning (3:30) to get them and then when we arrived back in Mbale that evening there was a steady stream of very excited Ugandans to see and welcome Mama and Pastor back home. The people here are so full of love and have such a great sense of extended family ties.

But the main story that I wanted to tell you about was how the Lord completely blessed my heart on Friday. Since Nelly (the administrator’s daughter) got back from being extremely sick and we had a praise service with all the staff and kids, a weekly fellowship has continued. This Friaday was the same. After lunch the kids start collecting themselves and move chairs for the staff. Someone acts as the MC of the event, welcoming everyone to the fellowship time. And then we have some praise and worship time. If you have been in Ugandan churches, you might have picked up that they have a specific time (and set of songs) for praising and a specific time for worship. Well, I have yet to really figure out the difference, so I cant tell you what part we were on. But there was one point when the kids were singing, many with their eyes closed and their hands up in the air. Of course my words cannot justify it. But to see them there, pure and undefiled worship to their Father in heaven. Such childlike faith. The beauty and simplicity of them calling out the name, “Our Lord” in their own language. It was moving, like to the point of goosebumps and teary eyes. The Lord is doing a mighty work here! He has rescued and redeemed these kids from where they were to be in a place where they can be free to worship Him and know that He is the giver of every good and perfect gift!! And that the Lord has called each staff member there to LCH for a specific purpose and we have the opportunity to be the hands and feet and loving embrace to these kids! We then went into a time of prayer, each one lifting up their own voices and cries to the Lord. Sweet Fatuma was next to me and in the mix of her Luganda/English prayer I heard her repeat over and over, “I love you Jesus! I love you Jesus! I love you Jesus!” What a beautiful challenge to just sit before the Lord and love him. Plain and simple with nothing else attached. So, I am truly blessing the Lord for the work He is doing through the weekly fellowships. They are blessing us individually, but also are brining us all into one accord under the grace of Jesus Christ and reminding all of us that it is ALL for His glory!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I have crossed the ocean to get here!

2009 Arrival

Wow. It is really wonderful to be back in Uganda. I thouroughly enjoyed my time in the USA and was so grateful to the Lord for all the people I was able to see and the opportunities I had to share the work that is happening and hope that is being restored at LCH. But there is a big difference between getting to share through my words and getting to share my life with these kids, so I am glad to be back. Still the Lord confirms that this is exactly where I am suppose to be.

So, of course there were some tears at the airport saying goodbye. I am just not good with goodbyes. My family and two friends escorted me to the airport. Thankfully, all suitcases weighed under the limit. I won’t lie, I was really sweating it. But they all registered at about 49 lbs… one pound under limit!! Praise the Lord. After getting through security and waving my last goodbyes, my stomach finally settled a bit. My thoughts… “Well, this is it. I am off again.” What a wonderful adventure God has already prepared for me. He faithfully led me, held me, kept me, taught me, helped me to adjust, and loved me through the people of Uganda, so I have no doubt that He will do that again.

Flying from Austin to Uganda is a LONG flight. Well, really it is 3 flights lasting 27 hours in total (with layovers). No matter who you are or how many movies they offer on the plane, anyone might get a little stir crazy. I was amused during my layover in Detroit by all the people walking past this water display, like a fountain. They would video or touch or little kids would throw coins. There was even a group of tourists who set their video on the ground and would try to capture a jumping shot in front of the fountain. You would see them jump and then here nothing but giggles. Upon making my way to the international flight terminal, I realized that I HAD been to the Detroit airport before. I knew because of this cool tunnel designed to distract you from the long walk. There are lights and drum noises playing as kind of a show as you walk through. This is a bad description, but if you have walked through it you know what I am talking about and that it is pretty cool. The rest of the flights and layovers were pretty uneventfyul (which is good). From Detroit to Amsterdam, there were only 100 people on that huge plane, so I literally had the entire row to myself, which is always nice for sleeping.

As I was waiting and praying that all my bags had made it in my plane in Uganda, my excitement started to grow. Who would be waiting around that glass wall to pick me up? It had been talked about that maybe some kids but I knew they had school. So, with my 4 cases on the cart, I wheeled out and saw 4 smiling faces jump over the rope to greet me: Glenn, Mike (a worker from LCH), Zora (my friend from Mbale that moved to Kampala) and Jimmy (the driver). I was excited to see them and so glad to not have to fly anymore. But the main story I wanted to tell was about Mike. As I mentioned before, he is a worker at LCH and comes from the village where LCH is. AND this was his very first time, in his life (he is at least 28), to go to Kampala. When you come from the village, usually there is no reason to make it all the way to the capital. So, Glenn had promised Mike that he could come to pick me up. In the van I heard stories of how Mike asked questions the whole way to Kampala, about how many planes he saw on the airstrip, about the number of cars and the traffic on the roads. It was awesome to hear his excitement. Then we were able to eat at a nice hotel, another first for Mike, who asked about how to use the fork and knife at the same time. We told him not to mind and just to eat. The next morning, I slept in a bit and found Mike sitting in the car, ready to go see more sights. As we got into the van to go for shopping, Glenn translated for me that Mike was just overjoyed to have slept in a “double story brick building”. We went shopping at a place called Garden City, which is really nice and has many shops. Of course, knowing that everything is new to Mike, we instructed him how to step onto the escalader and watched him stumble a bit getting off of the moving stairs. While leaving, Me, Glenn, and Mike went into the elevator while Jimmy walked down the stairs. I wish I had a camera of Mike’s face as he stepped out and realized that while we were in the “box” we had moved locations from where we started. He then saw Jimmy coming still walking down the stairs and started slapping all of our hands. Over and over on our ride back to Mbale we would hear Mike from the front seat say, “Ah! Kam-pal-la!” When we got back to Mbale, we sent Mike back to the village with bread, butter, sugar, and jam, so that he would have something to show his family from his trip to the capital. I have heard stories of how jam was new for the family and his kids ended up eating the jam by the spoonfuls. Since getting back, Mike has thanked me everyday for all that I have done for him, but I keep refuting that I only flew in to Uganda. Today he told me that my being here has been a blessing to him. He even gave a testimony at church on Sunday about his experiences in the big city. He was so happy. Really that made my whole 27hour exhaustion worth it.

I couldn’t wait to see the kids again, so the first chance was after church. As we arrived at the gate I could see the kids that were opening the gate shouting at the other, “It’s Auntie Natalie!” So, as we parked, I was swarmed by hundreds of little arms to give me hugs. Oh, I love these kids. I was able to visit for a little bit and then allowed them to continue with their evening activities. This week, I have been organizing me classroom, meeting the new teachers and students, and setting up my timetable for phonics. I really enjoy these kids. Today there was a group of kids after class that gathered and sang for me the new songs that they had been learning.

I feel like I am catching up very quickly. I am already back to Matoke and gnuts. From the children’s home to friends in town and at church, everyone has been so excited and welcomed me back “home.” And I do feel like it is home; like I have two homes. Well, this is long enough. Thanks for finishing if you are still reading. I am trying to get stable internet in my room, but feel free to email me and I will get back to you when I can. As always, thanks so much for praying for me.