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

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Summer Happenings.

I had a few people call last week and I felt like I just didn't have anything really interesting to update them on. You would think, "Oh, she lives in Africa!" and that would lead itself to all sorts of amazing stories, but really life can be pretty normal here. I have a routine and have been staying VERY busy since summer teams have started to come, but nothing really noteworthy. Or maybe I am just being blind to what God is up to and doing an injustice to you for not boasting in His faithfulness. So let me try to catch you up.

Term 2 of school is in full swing. I am still busy teaching phonics to P3, P4, and P6 classes, plus some special groups.

Our Friday afternoon prayer times are still going on. These started when Nellie was sick last year and has just continued. God has done wonders in uniting us with one purpose and one love as staff and kids. It is really challenging and heart-warming to hear the prayers of these precious kids. Faith like a child in full force!!

There is also time for some playing and exploring. Last week was grasshoppers (well really every week is grasshoppers- I guess the chase never gets boring). Though this week P3 is learning about spiders and I have seen the boys hunting for them, which is a bit disturbing because today I confiscated a small turantula.

God is so so faithful. A long while back some of you prayed for baby Gift, the daughter of one of our workers, who was burned severely. Well, Praise the Lord that she is healed and now is a student in our pre-school class.

We have been practicing for netball and football (soccer) competitions. The practices are a great time for me to talk with some of the kids that are not playing and just be silly.

I also got to see my friend Nambozo (the Compassion friend of Steph Beeler) play in the Netball National Competitions for Secondary Schools.

We have also been blessed at LCH by having teams come to visit. Grace Fellowship Church came and did VBS with the kids in the afternoon. One day, as I was moving through the classes seeing them dancing, singing, learning Bible stories, and doing crafts, I was overwhelmed by how far the Lord has brought these kids. Truly, less than 4 years ago these kids had nothing to hope in for their future and lived to survive. Now, they are so blessed and have really been redeemed from darkness into light. God has and is transforming each and every one of their lives and I get to be a part of that. How awesome is the Lord, Most High!

This is Norah and Florence showing off their crafts. (This photo is for you, Monica and Jac).

This one is for my Dad. I think I told you how I have a namesake baby. Well, another Auntie here was having a baby soon and jokingly I said, "Oh, well since we have baby Natalie now we just need baby Paul, Monica, and Janece. Then my whole family will be here in Uganda." Sure enough, this is baby Paul. And everytime I see him the Aunties say, "Greet your Dad." Ha. So, Dad-- your namesake!!

BUT right when I felt like I didn't have anything exciting to update people on, then The Day of the African Child came. Last Thursday our kids marched for my second annual DotAC. Our kids carried their banner proudly among many other schools and non-profit organizations that deal with kids.
We followed a live marching band and walked a good 2 kilometers from the middle of town to a little neighborhood outside of town. The main purpose of this day is to bring awareness of the stuggles and rights of an African child. It is in memory of the kids that were killed years ago in South Africa. Many issues, such as child labor, child sacrifice, and freedom to education are brought up through songs, poems, and skits.
Our LCH kids had a chance to perform a song. After their first song, everyone liked them so much that they were called up to do another song. I was in the crowd and everyone was asking, "Who are these kids?" "Where is Lulwanda?" "Have they recorded a CD?" People were impressed. They even came up and gave money to our kids for the job well done. I was really so proud of them and realized how these kids are shining, not just in my eyes, but outside the gates of LCH. God has made them a light and has made them to shine for His glory. It was really neat to see that so evidently. Also, after the performances, a reporter from a local radio station interviewed some of our kids and they all sang a song, "I am what God says I am. I am what God says I am. I am a winner, not a loser. I am what God says I am!"
(This picture is special to me because it is one of the IChooseYou girls who goes to Covenant Primary School giving money in appreciation to our LCH kids)

Jarod (the tall one) has done a great job producing original music and teaching our children not only how to sing it but also how to play it. David Lucky played the song "live" in front of all the people. I was so proud, once again.

So, maybe there are things going on but I have just failed to take the time to tell you about it. Thank you for reading this and being an accountablity to me to keep my blog up to date. It helps me to process (and document) what God is doing in my life, the kids life, and in Uganda in general. I love you and appreciate your continuous prayers.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Prayer request

Oh the Lord is good. It has been a very busy 3 weeks with different teams that are here for IChooseYou or LCH. But so good to see friends and spend some quality time together. We also had a huge youth conference that we hosted at church. There were over a thousand youth from Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya. A team from Colorado sent some teachers to teach us about all sorts of subjects. I did most of the coordinating day of, seeing as although we had a schedule things always got delayed and we had to make constant “on the spot” adjustments. But I was really pleased at how smoothly things ran, the teaching, and how many youth were impacted.

It has also been awesome to see how faithful the Lord has been to IChooseYou Ministry over the past year (www.ichooseyou.net). Being a new organization, things can easily start slow, but they haven’t. There are 20 kids who were never before enrolled in school who now have a great Christ based schooling and the parents are getting involved and being blessed. There is also a pig farm that is being started as an initiative to create jobs for some Karamojong men and ideally provide some funds for the kids in the ministry. I don’t have a huge role in this (Glenn and Haley have done AWESOME work!) but I do get to take photos and help in any “lost in translation/culture” situations.

BUT really why I wanted to post was to ask you to lift up our dear nurse at LCH, Dyana. She called home yesterday to be met with the sad news that her brother was in a fatal motorcycle accident. So, she is headed out on a flight back to America tonight. God is faithful and there is a team leaving so she can have some people to support her in the long journey home. I talked with her this morning and she sounded very normal but did say that it just doesn’t seem real. I expected that. But please lift her up in your prayers.

The Lord did teach me something today about grief… I didn’t hear the news until this morning and immediately my heart was so sorrowful for her. Really, as I type this I have tears in my eyes. Seeing as I have gone through losing my Mom, I knew from my grief experience that for the mourner, sometimes you just feel numb. Really like you can’t feel anything. And sometimes you feel peace and great strength- like you know there is a whole flood of emotions that are there to be had or a whole slew of things to think through, but it is as if God puts up a wall on your emotions and only lets certain emotions climb over that wall for you to feel. Like the emotions/thoughts only come in bits and pieces. (I sure hope I am making sense). I know from my experience I was able to recognize God’s hand in only giving me the thoughts and emotions that I could handle right then at that moment and more would come in time. BUT what I realized today is how during those times when the griever can’t feel much, it is the friends/family that carry the burden and grieve for them. So today (and however long the Lord wants) I will help carry some of the emotional burden of Dyana’s loss- which also helps to keep her in my mind and lifted up in prayer all the time.

So, maybe this paragraph would be better suited for my journal. Sorry if so. But all in all please continue to stand in the gap and fight the good fight with us here on the ground at LCH. The enemy comes in many sneaky ways to discourage and distract. But I know that the Host of Heaven is on our side. Praise Him!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

My first visitor of the summer!!

I had a friend from Midland, Sarah, come and visit me a few weeks ago. It was really such a nice time. We were still on holiday from school so there was plenty of time to rest/relax/play/tour. I decided that I would tell you the highlights of her visit through photos.

Glenn was gracious enough to be the driver (instead of hiring a driver and a big van). So, since Sarah didn't arrive until the evening, we were able to stop at Lake Victoria and have BIG fish and chips. Mmmm. I had been craving this for the whole week leading up.


As I have mentioned before, on the way from the airport back to Mbale you have to cross the River Nile. I won't lie, it still excites me every time. Since Sarah came with a church plant team last year, they were able to visit the Nile, but I wanted to take her to the actual source. And as most of you probably know, but good to state again- the Nile flows north.

It is funny to me how everywhere you go people try to weasle out all the money they can from tourists. The first guy I asked about a boat ride to go to the actual source said it was 40,000/Ush whereas we went to the next boat and were able to pay 25,000/Ush. Plus we got a really lively guide who told us all sorts of things about the Nile and where it meets Lake Victoria and who was the first one to discover the source.

The guide said the Nile comes from a natural aquifer. But apparently someone built a small island on top of the actual "spout" of the aquifer??? That is what he said but I have not yet googled it to see if that is correct. But I was told that this bubbling water coming from the edge of the island was the source that I am touching. He even scooped his hand and drank some.


After the River Nile we made our way back home to Mbale. We were able to spend a day by the pool, walk around town, go to LCH, and many other things.

We also got henna done. A little more than the first time. It was fun. The lady came to my house and I am still so impressed that she does it all freehand.

One of the highlights of Sarah's visit was getting to take her on safari to Murchison Falls National Park. It is in the western part of the country and I had actually never been to this park before. So, with a little African time, we left the house around 8am and headed on our long journey. Unfortuately, we made a bad choice on which road to take. In distance it was shorter, but the road was really rough. By God's grace we made it through all the potholes and arrived at Red Chilli Campgound 11 hours later. Ha. That was a serious day in the car.

Oh, but one story from the road was that we were crossing a bridge, right after seeing a sign welcoming us to the park (though we were still like 2 hours away from what I would consider the entrance). Being hopeful that we were going to be there soon, Sarah and I took out our cameras to take some photos of the river's rapids. At the end of the bridge we were stopped by two police men in army suits. The main one didn't even greet us but imediately asked for my camera. Thanks be to the Holy Spirit for helping me to sense quickly that something was funny. I showed the camera to him while it was still attached to my wrist. He proceeded to ask me to let him hold it. I asked him why and he said that he must confenscate my camera because I took photos of the bridge and that was not allowed because they don't know where I might take the photos or who i might give them to. I still refused to give the camera although his tone got a little more aggressive. Of course Sarah had no idea what was going on so I whispered to her, "Keep quiet and don't give them your camera". Well, after an ordeal of 20 minutes arguing his threats to take us into his boss, I kept my mouth shut and let our driver do the talking. The driver offered the men some money to buy cigarrettes but the police guy asked me, "What are you going to add?" I told him, "Nothing, it was a mistake and just like people forgive you for mistakes, you can forgive us." We even deleted the photos in his presence. UHHH. Corruption. We finally left but in my head i had a whole mouthful of what to say to that stubborn guy. I am so grateful that I didn't hand him my camera!!
The campground was really nice. We stayed in this cute little bungalo that even had a fan up until midnight (when they turned off the generator). The place was full of Mzungus and they had one common area where people would come sit at the tables for family style meals. And the food was EXCELLENT. I was so impressed with the place (and the price). That night we got in, the man at the front desk was extremely helpful and directed us at to how to book the next day's adventure. Walking back to my bungalo after dinner, I was greeted by these two friends.

Really I almost walked right into them and I don't know if they would have seemed so friendly then.
I don't have most of my photos because Sarah's camera died at the begining of the trip so I let her borrow my camera. But the highlights I do have.
The next morning we woke up bright and early to get into our safari car and cross the ferry.

After seeing many giraffes, monkeys, buffalo, antelopes, and even three lionesses, we were driving in search of some elephants. As we passed another car, the driver told us there was a lion spoted just up the road. We reached a point where there was another vehicle our direction headed off the road and into the bush. We stopped and our driver got out of the car to look. Then, off we were. This was my first time to take a safari car during a game drive but it was very worth it. When we had reached the area of the bush where the first car had stopped, I started looking off in the distance. Until the other people pointed just by my window. WOW!! A lion.... maybe 10 feet away. I really jumped a bit and started going to close the window. There was also a lioness that had just come back from hunting and was eating her prey. It was awesome!!!
The lioness is under the far left tree and the lion is under the far right tree.

Later that day we also took a boat ride, which was my favorite part. We saw hundreds of hippos and crocodiles. We even were able to see two elephants playing in the water. It looked like they were trying to drown each other, but would take turns doing it. It was really neat.
At one point, one of the girls on the boat needed to go for a short call (=pee). We pulled the boat up to a cleared area of the bush for her to get out. As she was moving to the front of the boat I heard someone say, "Look at that croccodile!" I thought they were just making a joke but sure enough about a stone's throw away there was a huge croc waddling from the land into the water. Ha. There was no way that I would get out to head towards the bush where only God knows what is out there. We just saw a croccodile!. But she did get out and made it back alive, while I remained in the boat and held it.

We left Murchison Falls the morning that Sarah would be flying out and made it to Kampala in plenty of time to get lunch, do some shopping, and check into my hotel. It was weird to see her go because we had been together for a week straight. I am so grateful for the opportunity God gave her to come and the blessing that it was having her here. So, officially, you are invited to come visit me in Uganda. Just let me know when you want to come!!
Matoke piled in a truck on the way back to Mbale. This is a common sight on the main roads.