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 11, 2014

The Tension...

It is hard to describe my feelings right now… really excited to be getting to see my family in a few short days but also deeply sad to be saying goodbye (for awhile).

I can’t wait to get to stop in London and visit (the now married) Tiffany and then head on to Texas to see my family, whom I have not seen in 1.5 years. I can’t wait to catch up with friends whom I have only gotten to watch their life through facebook and the occasional phone call. I can’t wait to have all the yummy food and ice cream I can dream of, anytime I want, without spending hours making it from scratch. I can’t wait to enjoy the festive Christmas spirit with all the d├ęcor and atmosphere that makes it feel like it is really the season.

But at the same time I feel really sad to say goodbyes. I feel sad to leave Lulwanda before the secondary children have come home for holiday and to know that some of them might be back at school when I return to Uganda. I feel sad to hand over many activities that I would normally have a leading role in. I feel sad to know that I will be missing the 10-year anniversary celebration of LCH and the Christmas party. I feel sad that my house will host visitors but I will not be here. I feel sad to say goodbye to the missionary community here and to miss the fun they will have at Thanksgiving. I feel sad knowing that the Palmer family and all their laughter will not be part of my everyday life for a while. I feel sad to be missing the longest holiday for the children and the time that I have the most fun with them because they are free from school responsibility.

It is the tension of having a “home” and “family” on two different continents that has remained one of the hardest parts of being an overseas missionary. Wherever I am, half of my heart is missing.

But isn’t that tension what we all should feel? If you are a believer in Christ Jesus, then this world is not our home. This tension heightens my awareness of this truth.

So I ask you to pray for me and with me. I leave Mbale on Wednesday to fly to London for a few days and then onto Texas until the beginning of February.

Pray for the Lord to be my joy and my portion.
Pray for easy transition and adaptation to a “new” culture.
Pray that I would trust the Lord with the people and things I have left behind.
Pray for new opportunities for me to share the great work the Lord is doing in Uganda and in me.
Pray for rest and refreshment.

I debated whether to share these more personal things from my heart, but concluded that it is better to have more people praying more specifically. So, here are some specifics, I am asking in faith, to see the Lord move in:

-      *  I am just getting over having malaria. Pray that I do not have a fever while entering England or America (because I know there is a heightened thought that Africa + fever = ebola. The reality is that I am 4000 miles away from where the outbreak is, so though I am not worried that I have it, I am worried that others might be ignorant of Africa’s geography).

-      *  My parents have recently moved to a new town and a new house. So, though I am going “home” it will not be the same home or city I have called home my whole life.  This means not only will I now live in the “village” instead of the big city, but I also don’t have friends, a church, or any of the other norms I am used to. Pray that I can easily adjust and enjoy the slower pace of life.

-      *  Pray that I can get plugged into a small group with other people my age.

-      *  I would like to see a Christian counselor while I am in the States, ideally if they have some experience in missionary work. BUT I have no idea where to look for this connection or how much it would cost. Pray that God brings the perfect connection in Burnet, Texas or nearby.

-     *   Please pray for quality time to connect with my sister and fun memory-makers with my whole family.

-      *  As furloughs go, I also need to do personal fundraising to cover my living costs for this next year in Uganda. I never want to feel like I am trying to “prove my worth” to those I share with, but sometimes this takes the Holy Spirits intervention to remind me that all my provisions are in the Father’s hand. Please pray for a proper perspective and wisdom in my fundraising.

-      * Pray for the Lord to inspire big dreams and hopes for this next year and beyond.

-      * Pray for perspective, clarity, joy, and identity in the Lord and where He continues to lead my life.

-       * I have already seen the Lord providing some practical needs, like a car to drive while I am in the States (Thank You!). But some other “wants” I am hoping for are: to attend a Christian conference and/or concert, a plane ticket (or two or three) to visit dear friends in Midland and other states, a new smart phone (since mine seems to be on its deathbed), a new camera (since mine has gone missing), amazon gift cards (for the random things that help make life in Uganda a bit more comfortable).

I recently read this article and thought it was pretty accurate (surprising how many things in this article have already been things I have asked the Lord to provide). Have a read if you are interested. 

Thank you for praying for me. I am so grateful. Maybe I will see you in Texas soon :)

Friday, October 17, 2014

Photo drop...

Sometimes there is just too much going on to update a blog. 
But here is a glimpse of what I have been up to during my silent (blog) times (in no particular order).

There was an introduction for my Ugandan Sister, Phoebe.
Here I am with Bobbi and Lilly Palmer, my teammates.

And still looking' good with Ana, Callie, and Lilly.

The secondary students were home during school holiday. I love having them home and miss them terribly when they are away. They are just so much fun. (Me, Allen, Zulufa, and Nooru)

Fun games during the Birthday Party celebrating those born between May - August.
Here we are doing a yogurt drop, trying to get it into their friends mouth instead of all over their face. 
Two classes went for swimming at Mt. Elgon Hotel. 
And while we were there some children were brave enough to take a camel ride.

The littlest ones of LCH came to the Palmer's house for a day of fun, 
including dolls, coloring, and a water gun fight.

I met some African warriors. Just kidding. These are some of our Lulwanda Primary School students dressed up for their traditional dance piece during music competition. 

Teams, teams, teams. Summer time means lots of teams and lots of visitors. 
We love seeing old and new friends. 

Enjoying a water balloon toss with Tomball Bible Church.

Hanging out, playing games and having fun during school holiday is my most favorite times of the year

(Madina, Daphine, and Tracy having fun coloring)

The staff and children don't have much to give to say THANK YOU and show love to our wonderful sponsors, prayer warriors, and friends, but the children do know how to dance and sing as a small token to say thank you.

The Books are the Beginning team took the time to visit ALL of our students 
at the 4 different secondary schools. 

The S2 students at St. Mary's College.

Visiting the S1 students at Seroma Christian School. 

In addition to upgrading the Lulwanda Library, the Books are the Beginning team also 
shared hundreds of books with five neighboring primary schools.

Music competition is a fun time to be at Lulwanda. The deep beats of the African drum fill the air and can be heard throughout the whole campus.

Here, Moses and Siraji practice on the xylophone. Moses is really good at playing this instrument.

The Books are the Beginning (BATB) team spent a month with us, so we were able to do a lot of fun things with them. They took half of the children on a trip to Mabira Forest to hike and enjoy Griffin Falls.

Though these are only paintings, we were able to watch some monkeys jump through the canopy.
(Abel, Hope, Daphine, Patience G, Me, Tracy) 

Some of our children joined a training at St. Kizito learning the importance of touch and talk for the development of a child. Here John and Felix are putting the lessons into practice. 

Each summer, one of the highlights is when we give out Buckets of Hope to our neighbors in Bulolelo village. Here Ivan Butali and Vincent carry buckets filled with rice, posho, beans, peanut butter, soap, vaseline, and a Bible.
Teacher Irene helps share with this Jaja (grandmother), that it is the love of Christ that has compelled us to come visit her and give her this gift. The Jaja could not understand and kept saying, "I am not a church member. Maybe you have gotten the wrong house." We got to share with her how much Jesus loves her and the God knows her and sees her and that is why we have come.

Some of the LCH children participated in two Jesus Loves Children Ministry crusades. This is a wonderful ministry with the purpose of giving young people the opportunity to serve the Lord through leading worship, memory verses, translating, sharing their testimonies, and even preaching at crusades.

Abel, sharing the Word of God with young and old people alike. 
(Fatuma was his translator)

I am so thankful that the Lord knows my capabilities and gifting and placed me as the Program Coordinator. It is really a good fit with enough administrative duties and planning to give me a challenge but also enough time with the children to keep me encouraged and loving my job.

So here I am doing what I am do do best (especially during the busy summer season of teams)- coordinating details.

Visiting Allen at her school, St. Mark's College. 
She is one of seven who are currently sitting for their Senior 4 exams that will determine whether they go further in their education and which school they will do this in. 

Please pray that the Word of God would fall on ready soil during our weekly Friday Fellowships, where we have a time of worship and someone shares God's Word. 

My favorite day of Summer 2014 was Hallelujah Day.
Our beloved friend, Mike Thrasher, had been terribly sick. Terribly. We prayed and prayed and believed God for not only a miraculous healing, but also that he would be able to lead his team to LCH in two months time. 

It was a day of celebration when Mike first stepped foot (back) at Lulwanda.

To read more about this story, click here

We love you Uncle Mike and Auntie Mary and are so glad to still be celebrating the miracle the Lord did in your life and the great blessing you both are to all of us.

Visiting some of our girls at Nabumali High School. 

During one of our outings, some of the kids were able to see a camel for the very first time. 

BATB took the second half of the children to the lower (and biggest) waterfall of Sipi Falls. 
We stopped for a photo before our hike down to the base.
(Willy, Lilly, Me, Grace Adong, Madina, Joyce K)

It was not an easy hike down this little ladder. Fears were overcome and the view at the bottom was worth it.
Pausing for a photo with Mary and Fatuma.

Straight down. 
One of our kids spotted this guy on the way.

My buddies, Lilly and Jackson.

A groups shot with some of the team members once we reached the base of the falls. 

I am so thankful that Bobbi and I get to do ministry together. 

After the hike we rested and had lunch from Crows Nest. 

The adventure seekers found a swing.

While others went flower hunting to see how many different varieties we could gather. 
(Gift, Me, Davis, Madina, Mary, Naula, Fatuma - check out the falls in the right corner)

Our students participated in netball and football competitions, with a number of them qualifying for the next level.

And the actual day of music competition. We were first place at the Sub-County level 
and sixth place in the District. 

Did you know that I write MONTHLY reports for the Lulwanda website? For more details of what is going on in these photos, feel free to visit HERE and read the "Program Coordinator" reports or just browse through some additional photos.