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, September 28, 2009

new photos

I added some photos to my picasa web album. there is a link to it on the right side of the page, if you scroll down some. I will slowly be adding more so keep posted.

otherwise I am ok. trusting and waiting on the Lord. He is faithful.

hope you have a great week!!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The unordinary common life...

So, I have realized that after 2+ years in Uganda, there are things that have become very common and routine to me that to the outside world are very unordinary. I am sure this list will continue to grow, but here is what I have collected so far...

- sitting at church for 4 hours
- not sitting on public toilet seats but rather hovering
- carrying around your own TP
- customary and polite to greet and shake hands with everyone in the room
- having to herd cattle out of the way as you walk down the road
- walking goats is more common than walking dogs
- dodging potholes in ALL the roads
- having an outfit custom fit and made just for you
- being a millionare (the exchange rate is $1 US = 2000 Uganda shillings)
- men on the roadside peeing with no attempt to be in hiding
- bones and fat are the choice pieces of "meat"
- taking a motorcycle "taxi" into town for only $0.50
- being shouted at, "Mzungu, how are you?" at least 20 times a day
- always being a minority
- hearing the muslim call to prayer
- eating dinner at 9pm
- having little girls bow down when they greet you
- dancing during every song at church
- "Praise the Lord" or "Mukama Yeba Zebwe" being a greeting or attention getter during the beginning of a meeting or a service
- "um" being a reasonable answer to a question (meaning yes)
- taking off your shoes as you enter a house
- bargaining for all items
- daily picking milk from a dairy
- speaking with a British accent
- passing a monkey sitting on a brick wall with school kids trying to feed it candies (down the street)
- having 2 padlocks on the door and 2 guards outside
- candles and matchboxes on every window sill for when the power goes out
- roosters as your alarm clock
- people not saying "bye" as they get off the phone

Those are just a few. I also am making a list of funny phrases used here, so be looking for that.

I hope you are well. I love getting emails, phone calls, and letters to hear how people are doing. It helps me not feel so far away or that I am missing out on people's lives, so please keep me informed on you. And thank you for your continued prayers.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

From Orphan to Queen

I have been so grateful to be able to really grow and understand a different culture outside of my own.  What I mean is that many times when people do mission trips for a week or so, they get to see some of culture, but really haven’t even seen how things work. 


Having lived in Uganda for 2 years now, I have seen and experienced how many things work.  What got me thinking about this is was our Friday fellowship at LCH.  It is a wonderful time that we have as staff and kids all together, where we sing, pray, and someone shares the Word.  Through these fellowships and Sunday services at Church, I have come to my own conclusion that although the Gospel is the same and True everywhere, for every culture, the way it is celebrated and interpreted is different.  I don’t think this is any profound conclusion.  There is a different “Christian culture” in all places.  I am sure Texas churches are different from Northern US churches.  I bet that the culture of TBarM is different from those of Pine Cove or Kanakuk.  Not a new thought, I know.  But the difference in “Christian culture” is even more pronounced when you cross continental borders.


I have seen a freedom in worship here in Uganda.  If there is not dancing and “African calling” throughout the music- something is wrong.  And as prayers are lifted up, even down the smallest kids at LCH, there is an intense dependency upon whom they are praying to.  I think this is because here, more so than in the USA, they recognize God as the provider of their DAILY needs.  Like Jesus prayed, “give us this day, our daily bread.”  So many people rely on God’s mercies and provision everyday- rather than having a pantry full of food (which still God has provided but I tend to see less his provision as I look into a full shelf of snacks).


Ok, but back to the Friday fellowship at LCH.  Yesterday, Teacher Favor shared about Esther.  She is going chapter by chapter and we read chapter 2.  At first I was excited because it would be a good “review” of the Esther study I finished a few months ago (the one by Beth Moore- I highly recommend it).  But this was nothing what I was expecting to hear.  It was so different but so perfect for the kids and the culture.  She talked about how Esther was an orphan, but she handled what God gave her with fear and trembling.  Chapter 2 of the book of Esther is when the king has just banished is wife and his advisors suggest that he calls of all the young virgins to come to the kingdom, undergo 12 months of beauty treatment, and then the king could choose his next queen. 


In the lesson, it was taught how Esther left her uncle that was raising her and went to the kingdom.  She did not say, “Who am I, as only an orphan, to enter the kingdom.  That is for those girls, but not someone like me.”  No, Esther the orphan entered into the kingdom.   And then there were 12 months of preparation and treatment.  She trained herself in new habits and ways.  (Now here is where the Ugandan interpretation of this passage came in).  It didn’t matter if she came from the village where she had never brushed her teeth; here she learned to do it.  She spent time bathing, looking smart, learning good table manners, and cleaning up after herself.  She learned how to listen when someone else was speaking and how to respond when someone was speaking to her.  She didn’t let her background hinder her from her opportunity to be the next queen.  God had opened the door for her to be trained in new ways and have new opportunities.  She didn’t try to look back to where she came from- whether to think that she is not good enough or qualified or to wish to go back to what she had.  God had opened the opportunity for her to be something more, and not just anything- the queen.  But she handled what God gave her with fear and trembling.  She respected it and utilized the opportunity.  And in the end, what happened?  She was chosen to be queen.


Teacher Favor then applied this to the kids, telling them that God has brought them to LCH, a new place with new ways and He desires to train them and make them all that they can be- all in preparation for what He has in store for their future.  They could be the next president or MP or administrator of an organization or head master of a school.  It doesn’t matter their background and they should never say, “But this is for “them”.  I am only an orphan.”  But they must be serious and learn and prepare themselves, just as Esther has 12 months of preparation before she entered the king’s room.


Wow.  It was beautiful and encouraging and nothing like what Beth Moore chose to point out in her study (at least from the point that the Spirit was teaching me).  God is great and big and cross cultured.  His Word is applicable to all people, in all lands, in all different ways.  I love that!


Continued violence and disruption in Kampala and surrounding areas:

The U.S. Mission in Uganda advises U.S. citizens that the violent demonstrations experienced in downtown Kampala and surrounding areas on September 10 are continuing today and possibly through the weekend. The demonstrations stem from political friction between the central government and the authorities of Buganda, a cultural kingdom in central Uganda.

This was an email that I got from my insurance.  They send me emails when health or “political” news happens in Uganda, just to keep me informed.  My first thought- “What?  I don’t understand what this is even about and how the riots are going to accomplish anything.  What about a peaceful demonstration?”  My second thought- “I guess it is good that we didn’t get tickets to see Kirk Franklin in Kampala this weekend.”

But really, what is the cause?  There is a king in the Kampala area.  First off, that is a little weird because you would think a king and a president would equal power struggle, but I guess things have been fairly ok so far.  So the king is of the tribe of the Buganda people group and there is an area that is still in the Buganda district, but this area has named their own king.  I guess it all boils down that the Ugandan government sided with this small king’s people that the Buganda king should get official permission to visit the people of this area.  And that made the Buganda king mad because it is still his district and his people and who should say the king should seek permission for anything.  Well, I guess that is a pretty good summary of the situation. 

So, as the Buganda king’s supporters tried to do decorating preparations (even though permission has not been granted to visit this small area) the opposing area’s people started to fight.  There were protests on the streets, in fact they completely blocked the streets.  So, as the police came, this only made the conflict between the two groups worse.  Tear gas, gun shots, now army men on every corner. 

As I talk with some of my co-workers they said that the people who are rioting on the streets are usually the youth that don’t have jobs or really a good purpose in their lives.  Inevitably, as riots break out, shops begin to be looted by these jobless youth. 

In fact, Glenn was there on Thursday when the riots first started.  He called me and said, “Guess where I am?”  “I don’t know.”  “The Sheraton.”  “Wow, fancy.  Why?” “Well there are gunshots and tear gas just down the hill in the middle of the city so at least this place is a bit secure.  But I am going to try to sneak out the backside of the city to get back to Mbale.”  The conversation went on a bit to explain what was happening and Glenn did make it home safely.  Later that afternoon I talked with one of my friends here who husband was stuck in Kampala.  He was going to catch the bus back to Mbale, when the fighting erupted.  In the middle of it, he got a little tear gas in the eye but was able to find refuge in his friend’s shop before they all locked themselves inside (to keep out violence and thiefs). 

Another friend who works in Kampala said he slept over at a friends house in the city because all the taxi’s to get to the outskirts of town cost 10,000 shillings (about $5 compared to the normal $0.50)

It is times like this that I feel VERY glad that I live in small town Mbale.  Although Kampala is much more westernized- foods, malls, movie theater, mzungus- Mbale is calm and safe. 

It is also times like this that I wonder if these sort of things just happen in 3rd world countries or do they also happen in America?  What does rioting solve?  Everyone desires to have their voice heard, but is this the best way?  Or maybe it is (as an individual) to be part of a greater purpose that is bigger than yourself?  That probably gets to our deeper longing of knowing that we are of value and have a purpose in this world.  But how lost and misdirected the world and its purposes can lead us.  I guess that is why Jesus clearly says, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life…”  It is only in Him that the hearts of man can be settled with significance (instead of seeking it through riots or other avenues).

Just thought I would share my thoughts.  Don’t worry.  Mbale is VERY calm and peaceful.  I hesitate sometime to share things like this in fear that someone might freak out without having the context of where I am in comparison to where the problems are.  So, please don’t worry.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Another Home in Mbale

There is another orphanage/Home in Mbale that I have gotten to visit a handful of times. St. Kazito's is different from LCH in that they deal with the really young ones. They have around 40 kids that have been brought to them. Also different from LCH, they don't keep kids beyond 4 years old and try to reintegrate the kids they have been helping back into their family once they reach this age. It is run by the local Catholic church.

There was a team from Houston that brought toys and little "motorcycles". These are the hit of the home. Whether riding or pushing, the kids love them!!This is sweet Elizabeth. She is 2 years old and paralyzed. Please pray for her.
Obviously this visit was before Dyana went back home. She brought over so many baby bottles, diapers, and plastic pants. They were so grateful.
I like going just to love on the kids and play with them. Special attention is always craved.
Lauren and Erin also got to visit when they were here. Look at those naked babies. So funny when they just laugh and run around the room!!
The little Massi warrior. So cute.

End of Term 2 Holiday

As most of you know, we have started Term 3 this week. The kids are glad to be back at school but had a fun holiday. I did too. Holiday is the chance for me to catch up on the things that I have not had time to do during the school year. Like participating in the summer missions. There was an open air crusade held the first week of holidays. I was able to participate in doing hut-to-hut evangelism. I really love doing it- getting to go around the villages and visit people in their homes sharing the love, hope, and salvation that is only found in Jesus Christ. This time, my first stop was at a school. I got to share with the teachers, who at the end were very encouraged and asked me to share with all the boarding students that had remained. Seeing as it was mostly P6 and P7 students and we were not too far in the village I was able to share the gospel in english (without a translator). What an awesome opportunity! It always amazes me how open people are here (in comparison to America) with hearing the gospel. And to be in a school, where children come from all backgrounds (catholic, muslim, witchcraft, etc...). The Truth is the truth, no matter what background and every person will have to make their own decision. After sharing, we asked for those who had trusted Jesus as their Savior for the first time to come and tell us their name so we could write it down. We had a whole sheet full of names! Awesome!

During the first week of holiday there was also a team that come to LCH. They held VBS for our kids and everyone had a really fun time. Also, one of the team members taughts some of our kids some art concepts and gave them the chance to do some painting. Here we are trying to paint the home. Our lesson was about really looking at colors to paint what we see, not what we think it should be.

A few of the other team members worked dilligently throughout the week to test all of the kids and staff's eyes to see if any of them were needing glasses. They were first tested with the traditional eye chart and if problems were seen then the team brought a special machine and tons of glasses to fit the kids with the right perscription. Praise the Lord!! Now so many of our kids can see the blackboard better. These are a group of P3 students waiting to go in for their examiniation.

And some random news... this is baby Mercy Miracle. So cute. She was born premature and had a rough first couple weeks of life, but now is strong and moving about.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Some News...

Well, (again) I am feeling WAY behind on posting blogs and photos of life and what is going on. Sorry about that but I have been busy.

First, I spent a day painting with Glenn. What you might ask??? Well, I am very happy to say that I have moved into a new room. I am now living in Senior Quarters (a neighborhood on the opposite side of town from Mama and Pastor's house) with 3 other American missionary girls.

Many people here have asked me why I "shifted" and the honest answer is that "To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven." I still feel like God has purposed me here in Mbale (and at LCH) and the season has not yet come to a close. I have LOVED my time at the Ogenga's house and they ARE my family. But, seeing as I am getting older, it was just time to move out- whether in Africa or America, I would not stay under my parent's roof forever. :) And I am so grateful for the opportunity to live with some girls my age!! It has already been a lot of fun (I have only lived there for a week now). There have also been some funny moments and conversations from me adjusting to Americanized life in Uganda. All I have known is the Ugandan way.

These are my new housemates...Brooklyn, Jennifer, Emily, (and me). They are all with a team with the New Testament Church of Christ group that is here. Brooklyn is an intern for the next 3 months and will be painting murals, while the other 2 are teachers at the mission school.
And this is my great room. I was able to fit everything in it (surprising how much you can collect in 2 years!!) and it felt like home as soon as I put my photos up. (this is a shameless hint to send me photos of you through snail mail- my address is on the side of the page)

So, that is my big news and change for now. We had our first day of Term 3 today, so the kids are all back to school. Let me know how you are!!