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

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

More than blessed.

As many of you know, I departed Uganda for a few months to spend the holidays in Texas with my family, to visit friends, and to do some personal fundraising for me to continue in my ministry in Uganda.

It was a bittersweet time preparing to leave, as my heart was very excited to be reunited with my family I haven't seen in 2 years, it was also sad knowing that the children at LCH are soon getting a long school holiday (my favorite time because the kids are out of school and available to have fun with).  Also, God has allowed me to establish a wonderful life in Uganda that I now call home.

To my surprise, the week I departed held a few special moments that I will treasure forever.

On Tuesday night, I stayed at LCH a little later just to have some more time with the kiddos- or so I thought.  As I pulled into my gate in town I saw an extra car that looked familiar.  Then I saw the all the lights in the sitting/dining room go out.  A little suspicious :)  Upon entering the house, with only the twinkle of christmas lights and candles lighting the way, I saw a few sets of legs sticking out from a beautifully set table.  At that point, all of my closest friends in Mbale jumped up, shouting "Surprise!"  



Since I will be in Texas for my 30th birthday, my sweet housemate Tiffany didn't want this milestone birthday to pass by uncelebrated.  (Thanks Tiff- you are really so wonderful!)

Don't worry- you didn't miss my real birthday.  I will officially leave my twenties on January 7th.

My heart was beyond blessed as I sat around the table, black and white skin sprinkled throughout, sharing a meal together.  My heart was blessed in seeing the faces of the people God has brought into my life who have loved me, taught me, challenged me, and enriched my life since being in Uganda.  And my heart was blessed as we danced and laughed throughout the evening.


                       




The next day was my last day at LCH (for this year).  It had been announced at the previous week's staff meeting that we were to have a "Fun Day" to send me off.  But I didn't think much about it as the days drew closer.  Usually I am the one to plan activities like this, so that morning I thought to myself, "I wonder if the Fun Day is really happening?  If they have planned something, they have done a good job keeping it a secret."  

When I got to work, I was told that things are happening but I don't need to get involved in them unless I am instructed to.  Later at lunch, Jerad came into my office instructing, "Nat, we need you to leave the office now and go to the library until further notice."  So, off I went.  

I was later collected by 2 staff and 2 kids who blindfolded me and tied my hands together behind my back and led me to the Main Hall.  Everything was quiet, too quiet when you know that there should be noises of about 200 children around.  I was led inside and as my blindfold was removed EVERYONE started singing Happy Birthday which was followed by a remix of "We wish you a Merry Christmas" and (of course) dancing! 

The Main Hall was decorated with balloons that hung overhead and spelled out the word "LOVE", Christmas trees, and a bear shaped cake.  It was in all its African glory and it was WONDERFUL!!



The afternoon proceeded with dance presentations from the little ones, a game where you try to pick up a box with your teeth (that gets cut down smaller each round), a skit about me and my life at LCH, another episode of wearing the blindfold and finding/removing sweeties from the tree, and a special interview and song from one of the puppies.  (I will also add that the puppy was wearing a baby onesie and seeing a dog in clothes and "singing" had everyone out of their seats and laughing.  Remember this is Uganda and dog are just scavengers, not pets - so the idea of putting any sort of clothes on an animal is completely foreign to them.)



                       

At the end of it all, beautiful words of love and appreciation were spoken over me.  I even received some special cards and gifts to bring home to my family.  And then the traditional "cutting of the cake."


It was such a fun and special day.  Maybe one of the best celebrations that we have had yet.  And throughout it all, the only thing I could think was, "Thank you, Lord!  I am more than blessed!"


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Just another day...

Friday in the office one of the staff came to my desk wanting to ask me something.  The conversation went a bit like this...

Mike (staff member): "Excuse me teach.  They have left for me some bricks just there at mile nine.  But the springs on the truck have broke so they can't bring them here.  I was wondering if you could help me and use your car to go pick them?"

Me: (a bit confused by the randomness of this conversation) "Ok, how many are there?"

Mike: "About 40."

Me: (Thinking how bricks are a bit heavy and though I can't really gauge how much 40 bricks weigh, they might be too much for my car) "Ok, well can't you wait for the small truck to come back from shopping and pick them up?"

Mike: "No, if I leave them, the people might steal them."

Me:  (hesitant but wanting to help) "Well, ok.  Let's go then."

I brought the tarp and laid it in the "boot" of my car and we headed off.

In the car I asked the normal things- about his home, about how his family is.  Then I asked, "So what are you building?"

Mike: "Sorry.  I did not get you."
Me: "What are you building?"
Mike: (with a great look of confusion and concentration trying to understand me) "I don't know what you are saying."
Me:  "Building.  What are you going to build with 40 bricks?"

Well, it turns out I misunderstood.  We were not going to pick 40 bricks...


But rather 40 loaves of bread that were meant to be delivered to LCH.  Instead we found them under the trees by the signpost at the main road.  

Oh Uganda... your randomness continues to amuse me :)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Our country in 50 years.

 A day in the life...

The other day I stopped by the post office to buy stamps.  But they didn't have any in stock.  So, I went to the gas station to get some gas.  But they were out of gas.  So, I went to another station.  But they too were out of gas.  Luckily, the 3rd place I stopped I found they had fuel so decided to fill up.  As we say, TIA.

This week Uganda celebrated it Jubilee Independence of 50 years.  The newspaper has been running a competition in its weekly kids magazine for children to design and send in the Uganda they want to see in 50 more years to come.  Lulwanda Children's Home has had some shining stars.


These are the two Faith's listed above.  We have also had 2 other winners.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A kitchen tale...


A long, long, time ago… in a Mzungu kitchen in a far off land…

Where organic produce was the only option,


And grew bigger than to be expected.

Where dinner is often cooked by solar power lights because of the shortage of electricity,

And herbs are grown in the garden outside…



Were three housemates cooking dinner.

Each busy with their part of the preparations,

In a kitchen where a gas powered stove and oven are a MUST (due to the previously mentioned power outages).

This normal night, one housemate went to do the normal task of lighting the oven.

Noticing that the knob was slightly turned, she thought nothing of it and proceeded in lighting the match and carefully tossing it into the little hole that ignites the burner.

But this was no normal night…

As the match flame neared the small hole, a surprising fireball spit out of the mouth of the oven, seemingly engulfing the match-lighter.

Stunned and in disbelief the match-lighter slapped her face asking the other two, “Am I ok??”

Their response, “Yeah.  But ARE you ok?”

“Yeah.  So I am not on fire?”

“No.”

But the stench of burnt hair lingered in the air as the match-lighter realized ALL of the hair on her right arm had been scorched off.

And proceeding to the mirror, the match-lighter, rejoiced at the sight of her eyelashes and eyebrows.  Knowing that they only barely escaped, seeing that they had been slightly singed.

And the three housemates in the kitchen decided not to use the oven that night and gave thanks to the Lord for his GREAT protection.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

I had the opportunity to take two children to Kampala with me this week.  Though I would never think to make an 8 hour round trip journey in one day in the States, in Uganda it is not uncommon.  People do it all the time.  So, when in Uganda do as the Ugandans.

Having left super early, Fatuma was tired and quickly fell asleep in the car.  As we approached into Jinja (the midway point of our journey), Siraji tapped my shoulder from the back seat and said, "Teacha, Fatuma has been taken by sleep this whole time.  She is missing all the places I have longed to see."

The journey continued with an entertaining and educational commentary from Siraji:
Siraji: "Teacha, is this River Nile?"  
Me: "Yes" 
S: "River Nile is the longest river in the world.  It also runs north." 
Me: "Do you know why it runs north?"
S: "Yes, because Uganda is higher than Egypt."

S: "Oh we are now entering into Mabira forest.  Teacher Amos tells us that it is 400 miles long."
Me: "400 miles?  Or maybe 400 square kilometers?"
S: "Oh yes that.  It has equatorial climate.  That is why it gets rain most of the year.  Mbale has tropical climate so it rains and it's dry and it rains and it's dry."
Me: "Is geography your favorite subject?"
S: "Yes."
Me:  "I could tell."

The journey continued with his informative commentary.  And since Fatuma slept through the first passing through the forest, he was stopped her in the middle of singing a worship song on the way back and said, "Fatuma, you see.  This is the forest.  It has equatorial climate.  Feel it (as he rolled down the window)." "But I would not be caught walking on foot through the forest at night."
Me: "Why?"
S: "Wild animals."
Me: "Sure?"
S: "Ahh, you try it and see.  The animals will come and bite your legs."
Me: "You think there are more than monkeys in this forest?"
S: "Ahh Teacha, there are many animals, but even these monkeys can handle you."

Outside of the commentary, I just love the phrases and word choices they use.

The journey continued with all three of us singing sweet songs to our Savior.  It was a precious moment.

And a very successful journey.  Everything we set out to do in Kampala was accomplished.  

AND...  I now have a ticket to the US 
and will arrive in Austin on November 16th!!

(I am still in need of a car to use for part or all of the time I am in the states, so please pray with me)

Waiting for ice-cream at Nat's favorite place in Kampala

Elephants in Kampala?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Can you help?

The Lord has been so good in allowing me to spend every other Christmas holiday in the States/Uganda.  This year, I plan to be back in the States (even hoping to come home a bit early to join in on the Thanksgiving turkey :)

While in Texas I plan to spend time with family and friends and to travel within the state to visit various churches to share all that God is doing at Lulwanda Children's Home.

BUT in order to do this traveling I am in need of a vehicle.  That is where you come in.  Do you have an extra vehicle I could borrow for the whole or part of my time?  Did you just buy a new car and are planning to sell your old one (but could wait on selling, let me borrow it, and then sell it later)?  Does your no-longer-driving grandparent have a car I could borrow?  Will you be on vacation and need a car-sitter?

Here are some of the details:
- I will be based in Austin, Texas with my family
- My hopeful dates in the States are around the 19th Nov - 31st Jan
- I will likely be driving to New Braunfels, Houston area, Dallas area, and around Austin

Please let me know if you might be able to help me get some wheels for part or all of the time I will be home.  Thank you.

natinuganda@gmail.com

Monday, August 27, 2012

Grace

So, I will throw it out their. A slight unveiling of my heart in this season. Having lived in this foreign land I now call home for five years now, I am so grateful the Lord continues to teach me new things about myself, my mission, and who I am in Him.

 My housemate, Tiffany, said something awhile back that is basic, but has stuck with me since then:

"We are here (in Uganda) by God's grace and it's His grace that keeps us here." 

How often do I forget the great gift of grace it is to be here, in a foreign land, serving side by side with His people? What a unique experience that some people only dream of but will never have. It is easy to look at the sacrifices (and I am not discounting that there are great sacrifices) but forget the gift of grace it is to be here.

"It is His grace that keeps us here." - Honestly my first interpretation of that was - "It takes a lot of His grace in me to help me handle all that goes on in living in a different place with a different culture and people."  But I don't think that is what Tiff meant.

Each day I remain in Uganda is the Father's gift of grace to me.  I am receiving what I don't deserve.  And perhaps the second statement is more about the grace manifested in others towards me.

The grace of me in Uganda has nothing to do with me; nothing to do with me manifesting any grace.  But it is poured out on me by my Father in heaven and by the hearts of the people who have allowed me to work beside them and have adopted me into their lives.

Therefore, the only natural and justifiable response back should be a gracious heart.  Does my life reflect the grace poured out on me?

I am afraid the answer is often, "no".

Ann (my middle name) means "full of grace"-  this has been my prayer for months now.  Oh Lord, may I live out the fullness of my name and be full of grace in everything I do.  Help me to walk more in your Spirit.  Let me love and show grace without boundaries.  Amen.


Friday, July 27, 2012

Lip Dub

So, about 2 months ago I hadn't even heard of a "lip dub".  Now, thanks to Sarah H. and Jerad the children at LCH have their own.  And it is SO good!  Click the link below and please feel free to share.

For more information on how to be part of the Father's work of restoring HOPE to His children in Uganda, visit http://www.ugandaorhans.org/






Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Oh Uganda!


My Life in Africa… REALLY??

Today a friend borrowed my car to take it to LCH to pick up one of his GOATS that he wanted to give to his friend as a wedding gift.  But the friend lives in Kenya so he needed the car tonight to bring his friend to his village house, pick up the goat, in order to take it across the border to Kenya tomorrow.   REALLY?  You are borrowing my car to put a goat in it?  REALLY?  You are giving a goat as a wedding gift and this is considered a really great gift?  REALLY?  You are going to carry the goat across the border?  Oh Africa!!


An unrelated but funny photo.  I love that I see goats WAY more often than I see dogs here.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

God is good, all the time!!

We are still alive and kickin', enjoying the many summer visitors that we have been blessed to host.



So don't give up on checking up on the blog...
but it's always better to live fully in each moment God has given.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Time flies when you are having fun.  This holiday from school has been one of the busiest that I can remember.  But I am grateful to embrace each moment and what it brings.  From crusades to chameleons, here is a recap of what has been happening the past month at Lulwanda.


(Sorry for the formatting.  It was not cooperating with me)
Jesus Love's Children Ministry
The LCH children and I were blessed to be a part of Jesus Love's Children Ministry's first Crusade.
The vision behind this ministry is to teach children about the love of Jesus and how salvation is a free gift given to us by our Father in Heaven.   Hosting nearly 400 children everyday, God showed up in a wonderful way as groups of child performers from 12 different churches came with their friends.  Unlike most crusades that are held, JLCM's crusade allowed children to lead praise and worship songs, testimonies, translating language, and prayers.  Each morning hour children were taught on the theme, ''Children are gifts from God'' and every crusade was closed with the gospel presentation of Jesus' love for the world.                      

            
 While the performers were organizing, hundreds of children gathered around the Mzungus to hear their funny accent.  But they also learned songs and motions to Jesus Loves Me This I Know. 

And at first they did not know what to think about the giant parachutes that were brought out but they quickly became a hit.

                               
Children praying for one another.


Perfect love comes from the Father through Jesus Christ, our Savior!
If you would like to know more about Jesus Love's Children Ministry or to help financially support one of the future crusades, please contact me for more information.
 
 
St. Kizito's Babies Home

As holiday approaches, children begin asking me daily, ''Teacha, when are be going to St. Kizito's?''   Usually I take three groups each holiday to visit their little 'brothers and sisters'.  The LCH children love to
play with the babies as well as help feed and bathe them.  I always encourage them that whatever friend they made at St. Kizito is now their baby to pray for because there might not be anyone else praying for them.  It is such a joy seeing my kids serving the Lord and loving these little ones. 


The Lulwanda children are very grateful to East Lake Fellowship in Burnet, Texas who graciously offered to sponsor this holiday’s visits to St. Kizito.  Thank you so much!



















SWIMMING
And one of the highlights of the holiday for many of the children was a special outing planned as an appreciation and motivation for all the LCH performers and singers.  If you have ever visited 


LCH, you know that we have some very talented children who love to give glory for what God has done in their lives through songs, skits, and dances.  As you can imagine, their polished performances take many hours of learning and practice.  Therefore, the performers and singers were blessed with an outing to Mt. Elgon Hotel for a day of swimming and fun.  Shouts of joy and excitement never ceased as the children jumped in and splashed around the cool water.  Children played and swam until exhausted and then walked to Tr. Natalie’s house to eat lunch and enjoy a movie.  Praise God for such talented children (and leader) who work hard to be a voice of gratitude for the whole family of Lulwanda Children’s Home. 


During free time children could be found playing hopscotch.



The Good Neighbor Program

Lulwanda is blessed to be a blessing to 110 children that live in Bulolelo village.  Thanks to our friends at MDPC, every term LCH children are able to invite their TGN friends to come for a day of fellowship and fun.

Sharing porridge together for breakfast
S2 boys catching up after some time apart

This TGN day was extra special because all LCH and TGN children received gifts thanks to Operation Christmas Child.  

It was fun for me to have been part of filling a box in the States, wondering where it might end up.  And now to be in Uganda on the receiving end and seeing the sheer joy and excitement as children received a gift in May, for no great reason other than the love of Jesus.  (I know these gifts are meant for Christmas- hints the name- but the reality is that they are not delivered until about April, so it makes them fun gifts 'just because'.)
Children playing with their friends on the playground

Showing off their goodies.

BEST PERFORMERS TOUR

The students of LPS and Nursery school who were the best in class for various topics were rewarded with an outing.  Children excitedly entered the new coaster and headed off to the next town beyond Lulwanda- Tororo.  After passing through a million potholes, our first stop was to see our furry friends up close and personal.  
Passing (or throwing- depending on how brave they were) bananas out the window, our bus became quite popular with the baboons.

Look Auntie, we're in Kenya!  That's right.  Lulwanda Children's Home is only 45 minutes (if the road is in good condition) from the Malaba boarder to Kenya.  Children were excited to be able to go home and tell people that today they went to Kenya.  They were also interested in the differences that were noticeable even at the boarder, such as license plates, police uniforms, road conditions, money, and language.
Here we are crossing over 'no man's land'- the river/bridge dividing Uganda and Kenya

Of course everyday activities also happened while children were on holiday.  Here Davis, Betty, and Ivan are helping the Aunties to wash dishes.


We always enjoy the holidays because our secondary students come back from school.


As I mentioned at the beginning,

Our holiday has been wonderfully blessed, from crusades to chameleons and everything in between.  

The boys found this little guy moving casually across the field in the front lawn.  Trapping it under something one boy came running to my office to get me. 'Teacha we caught a chameleon.  And it is BIG.  And mean.''

Not really thinking they knew what a chameleon was, I went outside to see what they had.  Sure enough, there it was.  Unfortunately, the boys had been throwing stones near it so it was quite frightened and making hissing noises.

I told them to wait while I found something to keep it in.  But this was definitely against their advice.  ''Teacha, you are going to touch it?!?! Its tongue is long and it will slap you with poison and bite you.''  Someone had obviously been telling them some untrue stories :)

Having commented on how yellow it had turned, I suggested that we put it somewhere else with another color to see if it would change.  Sure enough, it did.  The children were all really excited to watch its colors change before their eyes.

Later, we freed it in the garden of Pastor David where it hopefully is roaming free without any other encounters of little boys who throw stones.




Sunday, April 22, 2012

Fancy Dresses and Pick Up Lines

There are not many reasons to dress up really in nice party dresses and go out. Actually, my housemate and I daily do our part to fight the stereotype of the ‘missionary look’. So when the occasion arises to get all dolled up- high heels and everything- it is hard to say no. Last month was a fundraising event celebrating local women of the eastern region of Uganda that had made a difference in Mbale and the surrounding area.


Waltzing into one of the two fancy hotels in Mbale, our group of Mzungus was lookin’ good! After enjoying perusing some booths that were set up, all the guests were invited into the tent. We found our reserved table (donned with the ‘Mbale Mzungus’ table marker- awesome!). The night proceeded with a live jazz band, dinner, and an awards ceremony. But the highlight of the night was the fashion show of local ‘kitange’ pieces. The ladies modelling the clothes were very serious and focused, whereas the men hammed up the whole thing with funny expressions and great spin-around moves to assure the audience had a good look at their fashion.

Overall it was a fun night with friends and a great excuse to wear the dress that has been sitting in my closet the past year awaiting the right opportunity to make its grand reveal.





Unfortunately the fancy dresses have nothing to do with the other half of the title- pick up lines. But this story is worth telling.

We have found a great weekend getaway in Jinja. Being only 2 hours away, right on the Nile River, and only $7-15 a night, depending on your choice of dorm or private tent with a bed and a patio, it is the ideal spot to take visitors before they depart Uganda. But as with most backpacker places, there are often some interesting characters around, especially at night after they have had a few drinks. But they are also good for a laugh as we ‘people watch’ from the tables on the patio of the restaurant.

But there is one infamous weekend that provided more laughs than the rest. First there was our friend ‘Pudge’. That was really his name, or at least what his friends called him. We watched him wander around the bar all evening looking for his shoes- which proved to be comical as he would awkwardly bend over very near people searching for his shoes. During one point of the night, after he had already approached Allison and I twice to ask if we had seen his shoes, he approached a third time. This time he sat down and said with great emphasis, ‘You girls are... LEGENDARY!’ Ha.

But the best moment was Saturday night when many of the white water rafters were back from a great day on the Grade 5 rapids. Many people were dancing and chatting, so we sat on the side wall for a different perspective on that night’s ‘people watching’ event. There was a group of Indian guys that enjoying dancing (without the influence of alcohol added) near where we were seated. All of a sudden one points down at the bottom of wall and shouts, ‘snake!’. Surrounded by loud music, I didn’t clearly hear what he said. Plus I was sitting on the wall with my feet on the bench in front of me. Then he pointed and said it again. Siobhan, who was standing, quickly cleared the area, but I looked down to see where it was. Though seeing nothing, Allison and I quickly vacated the area after he pointed and warned of the snake he was seeing a third time. Once we were away from the wall and closer to him and his group he said, ‘Yeah! Now we dance,’ with his hands in the air. The line was too good. How could we say no? Actually they were really nice guys and taught us a traditional Indian dance they usually do at parties.

So that is the end of these two lovely stories. Hope you enjoyed.

Also, below is a picture of us in our fancy Easter ‘kitange’s’.





Friday, April 6, 2012

Oh Uganda... police investigations

Oh Uganda…
I realize that I have a whole collection of great stories that capture the daily antics of normal life in Uganda. When these moments happen phrases such as, “TIA (This is Africa)” or “Oh Uganda” are really the only suitable response.

For example, last weekend my car was broken into while visiting Jinja. After doing a bit of shopping my friends and I returned to the car only to see that someone had forcefully shoved a screwdriver (or something of the sort) into the door lock. Unfortunately, they made away with my laptop and some work documents, a camera, a makeup bag, and Melanie’s turquoise purse (containing a phone, drivers license, and debit card). HUGE BUMMER. Fortunately, nothing from the trunk of the car, which was filled with our overnight bags, including a bag that had someone’s passport in it, was taken.

I praise God for the peace that He gave me despite the great loss of my laptop. But not knowing what to do from here, I went inside the restaurant our car was park outside and asked the owner for her advice. After kindly offering a few of her workers to ask the nearby piki piki guys if they saw anything, our investigation was at a dead end. One of the workers (now to be referred to as “Mr. Green Shirt”) then escorted us to the police station to file a report. This is where the story gets good.

Walking up to the front desk, the receptionist seemed very uninterested in the fact that we were robbed. She lazily strolled behind the wall to retrieve the report papers. So, while waiting for her return my phone rings. Looking on the screen for who is calling, it is the STOLEN PHONE. I tuned to Melanie and said, “Uh, you are calling me.” We quickly shoved the phone towards our new friend, Mr. GS, trying to explain in our best British accent, “It’s the stolen phone. It’s the stolen phone calling. You answer and speak in vernacular!”

By this time another gentleman stepped up to the front desk, later to be known as Ruben the police investigator. Mr. GS explained that the guy on the other end of the phone was saying he found a purse and he is about 10km away and we can come and reclaim the purse. Ruben was not impressed, explaining that these calls happen a lot after a theft. They call, tell a location to meet, only to not really be there and lead you on a wild goose chase and “make you look like a fool.” But having watched one too many episodes of Castle, I was ready to follow all the leads, track down the thief, and reclaim my items. I knew God was going to redeem this situation. (Now is where I tell you that Tiff and I have been somewhat obsessed with Castle, watching at least 3 episodes almost every night, so I have learned many good tricks). Therefore, I told Ruben that I would rather try and be proven a fool than not try at all. He agreed reluctantly for us to go, alone. But in typical Ugandan style, I had to then ask, “Well, since we are at the police, are you not going to come with us as the investigator?” (Oh yeah, maybe that would be a good idea).

So we all load into my car, but not before having to go to the passenger side to unlock the door and climb over onto the driver’s side to unlock the rest of the doors, because remember- my lock is broken from the forced screwdriver entry and my clicker is conveniently not working at this moment. Crammed in the car we travel to the location the guy on the other end of the phone directed us to. But my excitement of partaking in a real crime investigation was crushed as Ruben and Mr.GS told the mzungus to remain in the car.

So as the dynamic duo were asking around at the local drinking spots for further leads to the suspected caller/potential thief, us ladies were left uneventfully in the car. Until a beautiful lady came to the window and said, “The man who’s calling you is there.” She points and then goes that direction, behind an old lorry truck. Where the heck is Ruben and Mr. GS? This is it! The caller is behind the truck where the lady has pointed but if we don’t move now we will lose her location. So, again using the great investigative skills I learned from Detective Beckett, I knew we couldn’t lose this lead so I jumped out of the car to see where the path led that was behind the truck… which was pretty much nowhere. The path stopped immediately at some grown men playing Ludo, a game similar to Trouble. We call these men idlers, as they spend most of the day using the little money they have on beer and playing games.

At this point I see the dynamic duo and clap to catch their attention and call them over. They lady had said the man who was calling me is among the Ludo players. I told Ruben what had happened and what the lady had said. Again, he was not very impressed with my skills. This was just a guy wasting my time because he wants to speak to a mzungu. So, my lead was dead. Hopefully Ruben had more luck.

Sure enough after returning to the car Mr. GS gets a call and the two cross the road together and disappear behind a brick wall. When they reappear Ruben is carry something… the turquoise purse. Apparently the thieves (likely from Kampala) only wanted the items worth something so they removed the SIM cards from Melanie’s phone and my work documents and glasses and shoved them all into the purse. A Good Samaritan who collects scrap metal to earn some cash was wheeling his finds on the back of a bike when he saw the purse. Apparently the thieves took enough time to tie the straps together and actually stop to place the purse in the trench on the side of the road because nothing was missing or scattered. So the Good Samaritan picked up the purse, saw Melaine’s driver’s license and the SIM cards and put them into his phone to try to locate the owner. He told Ruben that he thought maybe it was a murder case because it was a lost bag for a mzungu. Having called two previous phone numbers, he then called mine, which cycles back to the beginning of this antic dote.

Though I was skeptical at first, Ruben was confident that this was not our thief but just a nice guy. So, we gladly received the turquoise purse and head to the police station to file to report.

Now the station is almost a story of its own. The path to Ruben’s office first leads you by the holding cell for those recently arrested- today being three men with their arms and faces dangling out of the door bars. I wonder why they were there? And how long they have been there? How many are in the cell? But these questions are not why I am at the police station. We enter into Ruben’s office- dark and dingy. Expecting something official, Ruben then surprises me by drawing lines on a paper and beginning to hand write a report about the happenings of the afternoon. The sun was setting further in the sky and Ruben had to ask Melanie to move out of the last remaining sunlight because the power was out in the building.

Oh Uganda. Stolen items. Mystery phone calls. Goose chases. Idlers misleading the investigation. Recovered turquoise purse. Primitive police station. Hand written reports made by the light of the setting sun. And peace that surpasses my normal fleshly response coupled with a hope of redemption.
Ruben said that he would track down the serial number of the stolen phone and then try to check to see if someone has put a new SIM card in it, therefore leading us to the buyer of the phone, who will lead us to the seller of the phone, who could or could not be the actual thief, who then will take us where my laptop is so that I can have it back. (God is good, in that I had backed up everything from 2011 just a few weeks ago onto my external hard-drive, so not all was lost).

So I am still waiting. And I still have peace. And I still feel like the Lord is going to redeem this situation somehow. But even if He doesn’t do it in the way I would expect, I will still praise my Father because He is good.

Monday, February 13, 2012

New Year. New Resolutions.


New year. New resolutions.  

But realistically, those never really last.  Being inspired by a friend who faithfully blogged every Monday during his time in Uganda, I made the resolution that I would do the same and set a night.  Obviously I have failed at that because this is my first post since the new year started.  Maybe I can aim for once a month?

Something that I am continually reminded of is that life is life anywhere.  No matter where you are or how adventuresome your life seems from the outside, as humans we always find a norm.  Normal life in Africa might be packaged in a different color and have different daily dramas (like no power for day #9 and no concrete signs of it returning any time soon), but I still have found a “normal life” routine here in Uganda.  Actually I am really grateful for that.  I am grateful for the reminder that my greatest desire is for the Lord and He is everywhere that I am and that my needs are met because He is my provider.  I am grateful for friends from all over the world and “new normals” like sleeping under a mosquito net every night.  

I am also continually grateful that the Lord has chosen to use me, despite myself, to love the children of Lulwanda Children’s Home.   I am grateful that He has carried me through difficult times and humbled me when I start thinking (and acting) too highly of myself.  I am grateful for lessons re-learned in deeper ways and that it is the Lord’s kindness that leads me to repentance.

So, 2012 has started with a refreshing glimpse of some of my weaknesses: that my loving Father might break me down of myself that I can be more like Him.  The year has started with physical discomfort of serious heat and sketchy power to remind me that I have the choice of how I will respond in all situations.  And 2012 has started with the departure of many fun friends whose time in Uganda has come to an end to keep me close to Him as the only promised constant in my life.

I am reading the book, Humility by Andrew Murray.  It is definitely humbling.  I am far from being like Jesus.  I am grateful for the Holy Spirit who convicts me of my pride and self-centeredness but also reminds me that there is NO condemnation for those who are in Christ.  Please pray with me that I would daily count others as better than myself, not jump to conclusions or assumptions based on my opinions, and that I would seek to be a servant rather than seeking how to be served.  Pray that my words would be seasoned with encouragement and my actions would be ones of unconditional love.  Less of me and more of you, Jesus.  But better yet, none of me and all of you Jesus.

In the midst of being challenged and changed there are also many fun moments I have had since my last post.  There are about 1000 photos I would love to add but here are a few of my favorites:

 The Christmas story re-enactment at LCH
My Ugandan family

Natalie's Bunco Birthday Bash!
 For my 29th birthday I invited my closest friends to join me for a very fun night of playing Bunco.  This birthday was one of my favorites because I was able to have both my Ugandan and Mzungu friends together.
 My sweet kids.
This has been our group for the past few months.  Every Tuesday is game night, likely with a heated game of Settlers of Catan.  Sadly, two of these three lovely gentlemen have already returned to their country and the third one has about 2 weeks until he also departs.  Sam, Paul, and Dan- thank you for such a fun season of friendship.  You are (and will be) missed
Teacha Natalie and her kids.