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, 2015

A Bridal Party Hijacking

It is hard to really describe life in Uganda sometimes. A few words might be friendly, slow (we call this African time), relationship focused, last minute and definitely random. It is the daily random events that are hard to fully explain and over time, despite the intensity of the randomness, events happen and you are not thrown off guard or really all that surprised. Where most people would say, “I can’t believe this happened!” or “I can’t believe I saw this or that!”, here it is more of “I can’t believe this, but actually, I kinda can. This is Africa.” TIA

So today was a full day. We celebrated the wedding of one of our teachers at Lulwanda Primary School. After the wedding they had announced that the bridal party would take group photos with each side of the family. Since I always have my camera, I went over there to snap some shots. But as I looked around I saw that all arms were extended and taking photos with phones. There was not a single real camera around. (The phone paparazzi at any event is really out of control- nothing like boundaries that are at weddings in America). 

Even the officiant's translator took a chance to capture the bride and groom up close :)

I asked who the official photographer was and the MC said, “I thought you were.” Ok- from merry wedding witness to official wedding photographer. They then told me to get into the cars with all of the bridesmaids and groomsmen to go for the nice photos.

We drove to town (20 minutes each direction) and I stood in the drizzling rain for about 45 minutes as I organized some attempt at nice bridal party photos. Then, with the rest of the guests (and the whole village near LCH) waiting for us at the church, we loaded back into the cars.

The bride and grooms car left. The groomsman’s car left. The car I rode in was filled with the people I came with. But there was no driver. And then I look behind to see all of the bridesmaids huddled under the veranda. Knowing that we needed to go, I honked the horn to signal the driver to come. Nothing. Since local language was being spoken back and forth with increasing volume, I interjected the simple question, “Where is our driver? And the car for the bridesmaids?”

You will never guess where they went!! To the clinic to check on their sick patient. What?!?! Are you kidding me?!?! I thought you were being paid to be the bridal party’s driver. TIA.

My car-mates’ voices were getting increasingly louder and distressed. “Banange! (literally translated- you people) Where is the driver?!! I wish he would have left the keys if he was going!” That is when I noticed and announced that the keys to our car were still in the ignition. It was a unanimous decision that the current passengers should vacate the vehicle to allow the bridesmaids to enter (since even if the bride and groom reach the reception, they will be waiting on the bridesmaids before they “march” in). So, all 6 bridesmaids piled in and then the vacated passengers followed the ever-true motto “There is always room for one more.” So with about 12 people in the back, I We hijacked the small van.

I am so glad I learned to drive stick-shift on the big vans in Uganda. With a little bumpy start we were off, back to Bulolelo village to meet up with the rest of the bridal party so that the reception could officially begin. But remember how I said it was drizzling during photos? Well, it was still drizzling. And vehicles here are always decorated with fancy ribbon and bows during any major event. 

Though I debated whether I could drive without the wipers to preserve the fancy ribbon that covered our car, I decided that seeing properly was a better choice and turned on the wipers.


So, now I had no option but to drive my high-jacked, overloaded, manual, fuel-light-warning-on, non-working-wiper vehicle back to the reception, while shifting my head/eye position to try and find the least drizzly spot to look through. Oh Uganda!

The comments in the car were great. “Eh Na-talie. From photographer to driver. You are multi-purpose.”

We reached the reception and someone came up to me and asked, “What happen to the driver?!” “We left him in town” was all I could say. Ha. Talk about a random days events!

But overall the day was wonderful and colorful and the groom (one of our teachers) was so so happy.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Baby Nagudi

We just finished a great school holiday with the children that was filled with many different activities, events, and special classes. One of the weekly Wednesday events was to visit St. Kizito Babies Home with a group of Lulwanda children.  It is always so sweet to see the LCH kids interacting with these little ones, especially some of the "tougher" boys who surprise me how tender and intentional they are with the babies. 

I had some children write "articles" about some of the holiday events. Here is an article from Robinah:

Another thing I enjoyed is going to St. Kizito. I went to St. Kizito and I found my best baby who my heart says that one. I liked my friend and I enjoyed being with her. I like her because she does not cry so much. I enjoyed playing with her in the house, bathing her, giving her clothes, giving her food, and singing for her and she was sleeping. I also enjoyed playing with other babies and the most baby I like was Nagudi and when I came back I wrote a letter to her. -Robbinah

Robinah was part of the first group to go and sent this letter with o elf the girls that was in the second group, to give to her new friend Nagudi. How sweet is this?!?!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015


Because it is worth sharing (again for some of you)….

After a month of living at Tendo in May, I came home to some unwelcome visitors who had taken up nightly residence. (YUCK!!)

So, after some locally made rat traps failed me, I went to the "expert trap."

And it worked. 

BUT, there was just one problem…
Sticky traps are just that- sticky- not deadly. 
So, I was left with a problem.
And then this happened...

(But first this picture is necessary to understand my side)

 (Some friends question my logic, but it still seems to make sense to me… 
surely the bleach fumes would poison it, right?!)

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Yes Lord...

Last January I was at a conference and the worship leader shared the Lord’s challenge to her. “Will you say ‘YES’ to the Lord, even before you know what the question is?” Because He is always good and always faithful, I have said a major “Yes, Lord” with hands surrendered and a heart open to what He has in store in this upcoming season of my life.

I will be going on a sabbatical for six months, departing Uganda October 3rd (and returning early April 2016).

You can read the letter I sent out to friends, family and supporters below.

This is a major step of faith and obedience. I feel so confirmed by loved ones’ words and encouragement. I feel excited to see what the Lord will do. I feel so happy at the thought of seeing my family and friends. But, I also feel sad to leave my big family in Uganda. And, I feel a bit nervous because my everyday life, friends, ministry and space are in Uganda.

Please pray for me during this last month, as I prepare to go on sabbatical. Pray for me to accomplish all that I need to do. Pray that my heart will be steady in saying (temporary) goodbyes. And, pray that I will hear the Father’s voice as to what I am to do that day, and that I will continue living in the moment.

My home base will be my parents’ house in Burnet, Texas. But, I also hope to travel.

There are a few needs that I have:
-       * MAJOR NEED: A trustworthy and economical car to borrow for the 6 months I am in the states.
-       * Many of my supporters have graciously committed to continue their financial support, but it does not cover all my anticipated monthly costs.

-       I would love to know about any connections or information you have about  “missionary retreats” or “soul care” opportunities (or any other thing you think would be beneficial  that I might be too “out of the loop” to know about).

Specific Prayer Requests:
-       * For friendships. I grew up in Austin, not Burnet, and have only met a few people the brief time I was there over Christmas. I admit this is one of my biggest worries. I love friends and hosting people and getting together and being included and the close friendships that I have are spread throughout Texas and the USA, not near Burnet.
-       * For an opportunity to meet regularly with an older Christian mentor.
-       * Joy in the tension of the goodbyes and last minute details.
-       * For my hands and heart to be open, trusting and accepting of activities and changes that will happen at Lulwanda while I am gone. (Specifically, that my heart would be OK with being “left out” or “unaware.”)
-  * For my health to be strong (I currently have malaria for the second time in two months)

Thank you for your faithful prayers.

Sabbatical Letter Sent to Friends, Family, and Supporters:
Dear Friend,

May 2nd marked eight years in Uganda. Eight years of living life in a different culture. Eight years of building relationships with many wonderful people. Eight years of watching children grow and change. Eight years of saying joyous hellos and heart wrenching goodbyes. Eight years of seeing Scripture come to life. Eight years of being humbled by “mzungu thinking” that values timetables and to do lists over relationships. Eight years of walking by faith and seeing God move in the big and the small. These eight years hold some of my life’s biggest highs, but also some of its lows.

And, after eight years, I feel God doing something in my heart that is a bit unsettling. In addition to stirring my heart emotionally, on a practical level,  I feel that He asking me to uproot physically from Uganda - at least for a while.

I have spent much time in prayer and waiting over what this unsettled feeling is about because, when I think of packing up and saying goodbye to Uganda “forever,” it puts my heart in great distress. But, I also know that the Lord is doing something and I don’t feel peaceful about everything staying “as is.”

In March, I was able to attend a women’s retreat in Kenya. After two days of sessions talking about God’s sovereignty, the ever looming questions that were constantly in the back of my head rushed to the forefront. They were all consuming.

In that moment I prayed, “Lord, what do I do with this unsettled feeling? How much longer do you want me in Uganda? Is it time to move back to the USA? What in the world would I do there? What about my life here? What about all the children at LCH; I love them so much. How do I say goodbye to them?”

One of the guest speakers at the retreat spent 10 years as a missionary in western Uganda. Since returning to the States, she became a pastoral counselor. I had the opportunity to meet with her one-on-one and share the state of my heart. As I shared my feelings and desires to be obedient to the Lord’s will, my heart ached and my eyes flooded with tears over the thought that the unsettled feeling might mean leaving my life in Uganda forever. After hearing me sob through my story, she graciously and matter-of-factly asked, “Well, have you thought about a sabbatical?”

The truth is YES, I have. Many times. But, I always discounted it because I didn’t really think I was worthy of one, nor did I understand the meaning of a sabbatical for people in full-time ministry.

As I continued to speak with her, she said, “Maybe the answer is not A or B, but maybe it is C and a sabbatical is that C.” She also said, “It is obvious to me that thinking of leaving Uganda forever puts your heart in great distress, but you are not at peace in remaining. How does thinking about a sabbatical make you feel?” My response was “peaceful.”

Now, three months after this conversation, I have had time to think and pray about taking a sabbatical and the idea brings great peace. I know that I need a time of rest. I know that I need a time to reflect on the past eight years and to surrender and pray about the years to come. I know that for nine months I have been praying for the Lord to give me some new hopes and Jesus dreams, and I’ve felt that He has been fairly silent. But, as I think of a sabbatical, a handful of dreams and ideas enter my thinking. I know that I am not ready to pack my belongings, say my goodbyes, and end my life in Uganda right now. But, I also know that I would be walking in disobedience if I didn’t take some sort of break.

As I begin this sabbatical, I feel like my decision to remain in Uganda or return to the USA for the next years of my life is 50/50. But, I am confident that He, my loving Father in Heaven, knows the plans He has for me. I can rest in that truth.

So, I am asking you – my friends, family, supporters and prayer warriors – will you pray with me in this season? Will you pray for rest, encouragement and rejuvenation? Will you pray for clarity about where the Lord is leading me next and bravery to say “yes”?

I am planning to leave Uganda in early October and remain in the USA until April, when I will return in time to plan for next year’s summer teams at LCH. My hope and desire while in the USA is to have a chance to really rest, refresh and reflect. I also hope that my time involves visiting with many of you. Your care, concern and love bring rejuvenation to my spirit!

As I begin planning the practical aspects of meeting my basic needs would you consider continuing your financial support while I am on sabbatical? You have been so extremely generous in partnering with me in my ministry while in Uganda. 

Thank you for standing with me. I love you.