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

Saturday, September 10, 2016

When car searching led to a morning full of tears…

 A normal morning last week started out well.

I was strong and proud, feeling independent and capable. I was collecting information about new terms and details that 9+ years in Africa had left me only mildly aware of. I was feeling confident about my preferences that I was discovering that I wanted in a car. I was even feeling hopeful that I might get a better deal than first expected.

As I wrote out my findings in an email to my Dad, the master of all deal-finders, I suddenly had tears rolling down my cheek, each moment led to more at a faster pace (truth be told, even as I am writing this now, my eyes are brimming with tears). And then the gentle sobs of a grieving heart began, again.

You see, after 9 years of a beautiful life of love and service to the Lord in Uganda, I have said “YES” to the Lord’s leading, once again, only this time it is moving back to America (for good- at least for now). This step of obedience comes with a whole variety of emotions:

-       grateful for the Lord’s kindness and patience: this decision has been about a 2 year process and I am so thankful that in God’s kindness He has not abruptly asked me to leave but has allowed my heart and mind the time to catch up with the idea

-       sadness (oh such great sadness) that I will no longer share everyday life with my precious children/teenagers at Lulwanda

-       torn that America and Africa are just so far away from each other- how will I stay in touch with my Ugandan family at Lulwanda?

-       overwhelmed by the many details/decisions and more so the various options available for fulfilling those details: case in point- last week’s car search

-       peace in my decision of obedience to go: The Lord has been teaching me that just because it is hard, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do it.

-       thankfulness that though I find tears flowing at least at some point in each day, the tears come from love: being loved well and also loving well.

-       Proud and victorious: I am grateful that I leave Lulwanda in peace, with peaceful relationships, as I see the Lord still moving and growing the Lulwanda family through more children and more missionary support. I have stood in stormy seasons and I have stood in peaceful seasons and there is nothing “chasing” me from Uganda, but I only walk in obedience to the Lord. Many have asked me, “but why, why now?” My answer is obedience. To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven. Just as I came to Uganda in obedience, like Abraham went to a foreign land, leaving his family, home, and friends, I also came. And now just in the same way, I am again obeying the Lord as He says to go into a new unknown.

-       Humbled: Of all the many believers in the world, the Lord chose me to bestow the special and unique gift of the inseparable mixture of life and ministry in Uganda and directly carrying out his heartbeat of caring for orphans.

-       Surrender and Confidence: I am not anyone’s savior. The Lord has always been the Keeper of all of these children. I have had the privilege to play a role in helping raise them and encourage them in faith, BUT it has and always will be the Good Father that keeps them.

-       Nervousness mixed with anticipation: I am a planner and can’t help but think through all the details. Though I do not yet know the details of what the Lord has prepared for me in Texas, I am confident that I am returning to the FULLNESS of what He has for me.

-       Hopeful: Thanks to a few people speaking great words of Truth and encouragement to me during my sabbatical, I am confident that this is not an “ending” of my life of ministry, but the next step. As one person said to me, “You have been faithful in the small and big in Uganda. The Lord is not bringing you back to America for a cake walk.” Amen.

So with hands literally outstretched in surrender as I sat weeping on my bed last week, my heart and voice said,
“Thank you Lord for the privilege of loving you and serving you.”
“Thank you for a willing heart of surrender to whatever you have for me.”
“Thank you that Love drives these tears.”
“Thank you that you go before me and know all the details of what is next.”
“Thank you that in You, my life always has purpose and meaning.”
“Thank you that You are good and trustworthy.”
“Thank you that you are the same God, my Provider, in both Uganda and America.”
“Yes Lord. I continue to say, “Yes.”

These might seem like simple statements and searching for a car and insurance, etc., might seem like simple tasks, but in the mix of a transition they are heavy with not just the practicality of the task but the heart emotions: a continued surrender; a continued trust in the faithfulness of the Lord; a continued declaration of Truth; a continued check on emotions so I am not just in denial and that I end well; a continued grounding to the moments NOW and not the anxiety of the days to come; a continued capturing of my thoughts to make sure they are true, right, good, pure, lovely, and worthy of praise; a continued mental list to assure that I “forget not all His benefits”.

So, I am asking for your prayers in this transition. I fly out October 10, 2016.
That is 9 years, 5 months, and 8 days from the first day I stepped on Ugandan soil and fell in love with the children of Lulwanda (May 2, 2007).

In a very practical sense, there are some things that I need prayer for- whether wisdom, direction, connections, or help.
-       - I have my dad on the task of searching for a car. May it be a good deal and just what I need (and quickly found so that I can have wheels when I reach Texas).
-       - Pray for the best option of heath insurance to be clear and affordable.
-       - My parents have graciously offered for me stay with them the first few months that I move back. But I will eventually need to find a place of my own and will need to fill that house with things. This is an overwhelming thought.
-       - Pray that God would be preparing a group of friends in my season of life that I would find quickly. I am so grateful for my church small group I have in Burnet, but that likely will not be my final landing spot/city.
-       - I have been encouraged to attend a missionary debriefing conference a few months after arriving in country. Please pray for an open spot in the perfect session for me and for the finances to be able to attend.
-       - Pray that I would know how to specifically love and honor each of my friends and children here and how to say goodbyes well. And pray BIG with me, that I would have the opportunity to return to Uganda at least once a year to visit my family here.
-      -  I am likely looking for a job in ministry or with an Non-profit or something to do with missions/missionary care. Do you maybe know of something that would suit me?
o   I love people. I am good at planning and programing. And I have a heart for the less fortunate
-       - In order to start applying for jobs, I need a modernized and memorable resume. Do you know anyone that can help me with this?

Some people have asked me if I am excited to be returning. Honestly, not yet. As I mentioned, I am peaceful but sad. I shared this article with my family that helps to capture the mixture of thoughts and feelings on repatriating into ones’ home culture.  

I know the Lord is with me in this journey. I feel His nearness and it is surely my good.

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