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

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sabbatical Send Off

It was a typical Friday in the office at LCH. Friday fellowship had ended and I had a few loose ends to tie up before I left for my long sabbatical. Tomorrow was Tr. Francis’ wedding at the church behind LCH, so there was some noise in the main hall. I could hear tables moving and chairs being stacked, I assumed in preparation for his big day.  Earlier that week I had received a school notice of the next weeks plans for testing (and therefore schedule changes). On it included a “Prayer send off for the coordinator” on Monday.

While I was busy in the office, Head Master William walked in proclaiming with a big smile, 
“Na-talie, I want to give you a stern warning. Are you ready?” A bit confused I said yes. “You may not leave this office under any circumstance until someone comes to get you,” he warned me.

Hmm. Maybe all the racket in the hall was not for what I had anticipated it for…

About 1.5 hours later I heard Jerad on the PA system welcoming people in and the announcement for the special team to gather me from my office. In typical African style, I was escorted out of my office with a procession of dancing staff members and the timeless African shrill.

(Gulp) The whole of Lulwanda was there- all the school children, all the teachers, all the home staff. (Ok Nat, keep it together and don’t let the tears start yet).

They had set up the main hall in pure party fashion, including a high table. Auntie Christine even gave up her regular tall chair for the seat of honor, decorated with pretty lace doilies. Different classes had prepared presentations and dances. And the staff had very graciously collected money to buy gifts. Not only did they send me off with a beautiful kitange outfit, they also thought of each of my family members and wanted to send their love to them through gifts as well. HOW SWEET IS THAT!
In Ugandan tradition, the person of honor is the one to serve each of their guests a piece of cake.

It was a beautiful and honoring send off to remember. I appreciate all the heartfelt prayers of protection, rest, and blessing.

Enjoy this video that captured the day. 

(Photo credit and videography credit to a number of LCH children)

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The little pieces that make up AWESOME stories...

SO you know how sometimes God pieces together stories over a long period of time, sometimes unknowingly that this piece matches with that one? Well I have one of those stories (of many) to tell…

Piece 1:
Right after university I had the great blessing of being part of TBarM’s Timothy Team. As a discipleship program, we went on an evangelical mission trip at the beginning of the year. Our trip to Nigeria/Cameroon was one of the greatest adventures I will ever have in my life (that is a whole other super crazy story). But the curriculum changed after my year and all the following Tim Teams after ours now go to Israel instead of an evangelical trip like we took. Throughout the years my teammates and I have discussed whether, if possible, we would have traded our trip to Africa for a trip to Israel. Both being super awesome, we have all concluded that our experience in Cameroon was once in a life-time so we wouldn’t trade it. But we would really love to go to Israel one day.

Piece 2:
One furlough Janece and I borrowed some CDs of Ray Vanderlann’s teaching. As we listened, we started discussing how we would love to go to Israel together. Much discussion and dreaming later we said, “Ok, 2014.” But 2014 came and went and Dad wasn’t very enthusiastic about us going over there due to safety issues. So we didn’t go and Israel remained on my life bucket-list.

Piece 3:
Last year during one of my calls with my parents (while I was in Uganda) they told me they opened an interesting piece of mail on my behalf.

Piece 4:
Throughout my childhood my grandparents and aunt would send me CD bonds for Christmas and birthdays. These went into an account to pay for University. And when I graduated in 2005 I paid off my student loans with the CD bonds and part of my inheritance from my mom’s house. Finished. Done deal. Debt free. Amen.

Back to piece 3:
They told me I received a letter from a certain company. The name rang a bell but I had to go into the deep recesses of my brain to piece together why it sounded familiar… it was the account where I had my CD bonds. Apparently I had some money remaining in that account.

WHAT?!?!! I thought I spent it all to pay for school. Why haven’t we received anything from them all these years? How did they even know my address anymore since we had moved? What in the world?!

I remember thinking that I would love to use it to take a memory-making trip.

Piece 5:
As you know, I am on my sabbatical. This has been a journey to get to this place and the Lord has kindly gifted me with this time. This is the longest amount of time I have ever been back in the States since 2007 when I moved to Uganda.

Piece 6:
Back in July 2015, Janece sends me this email:

And my response:

Janece had read about the trip in the church bulletin and it obviously caught her eye, especially that it coincided with when I would be in America on sabbatical. Another time at church, the leader of the trip walked up to where my parent were so she mentioned wanting to go but Dad’s concern about security. The leader’s answer settled Dad’s worries and he gave the go ahead to pursue it.

Piece 7:

So in 14 days Janece and I are headed to the Holy Land. We are beyond excited to see the places we have read about in the Bible all these years and to walk the paths that Jesus walked. Please be praying for us and the other 32 people in our group as we depart January 26. Pray for unity and safety among the group. And pray that the eye of our heart would be enlightened and that the Word would become alive as we gain deeper understanding.

Drawing from one of the LCH boys during a summer team activity.

(I also want to acknowledge the generosity of my parents for my Christmas and Birthday "gifts" going towards this trip.)

As Keith, the Tim Team “boss” always says, “God writes some pretty amazing stories.”

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Scripture Memory Challenge 2016

As the new year has begun, I have challenged myself to try an memorize a new scripture each week of the year. Some of these are one sentence, some a few verses long.

Being one who loves a friendly "competition," I would love to have a few others join me to help hold one another accountable. Please let me know if you do.

I have left one week each month open for you to place a scripture of your choice, possible something that the Lord is teaching you.

And I am taking suggestions for scripture to fill into the second and third quarters of the year.

May we hide God's Word in our heart together.

LINK to Scripture Memory Challenge 2016