Archibald Family

Archibald Family

Sunday, December 9, 2007

God is Great and Worthy of Praise!

I awoke this morning as a child like the night before Christmas. I am so excited to go home and see my family. I talked at great length to Duane last night, and shared all my mix feelings and especially my fears. He am relieved to know he understands. We both know God is doing something, and we are both choosing to allow God to lead our lives. Knowing I am loved by Duane is one of my greatest gifts. I long to be back in his life once again.

As I have gotten ready this morning I find my mind pondering all the images ingrained in my mind from the past three weeks. I also am reminded of the prayer requests I had people praying while I was gone. I then couldn't help but recognize who God is and the praise He so richly deserves.

I praise God for He is a God I can trust. Each time I was fearful or in a state of confusion I would let it go into His hands, totally letting all the details, worries or questions go and allow Him to take the lead. I found peace in my surrender and confidence God would get me through each situation. My trust in Him has grown and my faith in Him as well.

I praise God for being a compassionate God. I saw that God held me hand as fear gripped me when we had turbulence on our plane. I saw compassion through each host's face that I have embedded in my mind. Through their stories and openness I recognize God's care and love. I have witnessed how God has rescued each child and has provided for their physical and emotional needs.

I praise God for His love. He is constantly faithful and pours His love into each person I have met. Through His faithfulness, so many have come to Him as the invitation was offered. His love is real, and constant. His love is for all His children - those sick with AIDS, those who are orphaned and is there for even me.

Praise God for His hope. He provides hope through His callings and through His word. I still am impacted of how people don't have access to the Bible, how thirsty they are for it, and how valuable a gift I have at my fingertips that I take for granted. Through His Word He reminds us that we aren't alone and that He offers us a future of hope.

I praise God for being a great healer. He has saved so many from death, so many babies that have been left for dead yet He gave them life. He continues to provide the help, care and facility for those in need. Through His care He has been able to take these kids hearts and remove their fears and their feelings of worthlessness and give them a future. I ponder a baby who was fed acid in hopes he would die. Not only did God rescue this child but two days ago the child's feeding tube had been removed and was eating once again. God heals. He even took time to remove the lies I have believed and made my heart whole once again.

I praise God for His joy. I think of all these "Mzungoos" bringing smiles and gifts to so many kids. And how each of their faces would light up and would be eager to touch, hold or play. I saw joy through each Ugandan - joy even through what they don't have.

I praise God for His provisions. Giving food, shelter, and education to not only the children in Watoto's care but also to the adults in the community, the house moms, the builders, the teachers and other workers. I think too of the teams that come, each individual raising money to help build homes and classrooms. God has provided it all.

I praise God for His creativity. Through the beauty of His world and all He has made to fill it. How He didn't make us all one color, nor limit His animals, but instead took the time to make so many unique details and giving each a purpose.

My God is Great! My God is worthy of praise. I have fallen in love with Him so much more. I am humbled, privileged and so grateful. I am thankful God has allowed me to share more of His world, but mostly to experience more of Him. I have the privilege and joy of serving a Great Big God.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Heading Home

I started heading home today, and leaving a new place I have called home and leaving a huge part of my heart.

I wondered at first if we'd make it to the airport. The major roads in Uganda are paved but a lot of the side streets aren't (they are just dirt). Our guest house was on a side street off a major road - and on a hill. Last night everyone was woken by thunder and lightning - lightning that came down right next to the house. It rained all through the night and even this morning. Our dirt road was now mud. Our bus couldn't get up the road. The driver tried over and over again, but finally after he backed up (way past the guest house entrance) to get a "running jump" we finally got up the hill and started heading to the airport.

I watched all the homes, all the stores. Even at 6:00 in the morning people were out! I have remembered the past couple of weeks and have realized how I have appreciated the people in Uganda. I will remember how God is at Uganda's root, how I would see evidence of Him printed on the taxis and hear praise music in the stores. I will remember how God has put me in His classroom. I will remember the pain of saying good-bye.

I look forward to see my family, loving them and being part of their lives once again. But how do I go back to our oversize home, ouir refridgerator full of food, and the closets full of clothes? How do I go back to a selfish society?

God has been with me all day. I have continued to put my trust in Him and I praise Him. I love my God and know He loves me and know He'll help me process all this and grant me wisdom as I share with others.

Friday, December 7, 2007

This is the Day the Lord Has Made....Just for Me!

More tears today as we said good-bye to our new Australian friends. Friends who have been full of joy, silly, full of excitement and a heart full for God. They have made my heart so much lighter.

Today was the day I had been looking for. We had a quiet morning, but I was also finally able to get everything I had been feeling and pondering out in the open, for a good friend of mine gave me her listening ear. I find I need to verbalize my thoughts to process them or I forget everything my mind is carrying. As I expressed my fears, my thoughts I felt more relieved, more secure as she reminded me of how it is all God's timing how this trip is revealed and used for each of us. For me, perhaps it isn't until I get home and process it all. I I needed to hear what was said. My fear all along has been missing what God is trying to teach me, and now I hope the fear of this hasn't claimed the trip. But I am reminded that God can and will use all things for His glory!

But I soon discovered - today was my day. From the moment I got on the bus to the moment I went to bed. As I got onto the bus I was able to talk to God - without any interruption, it was just Him and me. My heart revealed praise and confession to Him throughout out trip to the baby's home. I have been taking a stand that I don't notice the skin color and am not a racist. However when I see white people I experience disappointment. I have been treated as royalty and "rich", and perhaps even took that role on. I have been in situations where I was uncomfortable because of me being white. As I confessed this to God, I developed more of a yearning to be more like Him. He sees no black, white, nor color of any kind. He doesn't believe the myths or lies that He hears and casts no judgement of any kind. What an awesome God I serve! Today was a whole new day!

A few of us headed to the baby's home. this is why I came - not to shop, or even go on a safari, but to help the lives of orphans, but even more to help and encourage those who are already serving. At the time we arrived the older babies were finishing eating their lunch, outside. We helped them with their last bites, and tried not to get the messy hands and spills on us - but soon it just didn't matter. The caregiver could tell the task was to an end and called out "bathroom" and then these 1-2 year olds got up and went to the bathroom! I couldn't believe what I was seeing! These little babies doing what our 3 year olds at home do. When they entered the bathroom we took their diapers and clothes off and they were put on their potty chairs. (You have to remember the earlier the child is potty trained - the more money the home saves on diapers.) We then bathed them, diapered and dressed them and then carried them to their bed. I was simply amazed of how they knew their routine - how when they were put in their bed, they lied down, mostly with no fuss, and fell asleep.

While the babies were sleeping we went out to see what help we could be in the laundry area, as the workers were getting their breaks and lunch. Laundry, as any mother knows, is a never ending job - now multiply it by 60! The baby's home is blessed to have three washers and three dryers (which are always going), and not having to do all this by hand. I felt I was in my element and it was then I started missing my family more. I came to help and encourage and through this task of laundry I was able. I thanked the workers for doing their jobs, taking care of these babies and asked God's blessing upon them. The younger babies awoke, we then helped more with feeding until it was time to leave.

We had a privilege today to attend a "Daughters of Destiny" conference at KPC. Through the guest speaker, (Pastor Bobbie Houston from Hillsong church) I heard again how the devil "comes in as a thief to kill and destroy." This is the second time I have heard this this week and can't help but know God is trying to remind me of this. Pastor Bobbie also mentioned the parable of the sower and his seeds (Matthew 13:1-9). Through her message I had a deeper wanted to be the good soil, I also want to give 100% in all areas of my life God calls me to. I made a choice tonight, to not let the hardships, the hurts and anguish I have claim me. I let them all go, laid it at the cross and am planning to leave it there. I feel so much lighter and free!

During Daughters of Destiny, KPC's ministry - Living Hope (reaching people who are living with AIDS and help them experience the grace and and mercy of Jesus) really spoke to me. While we have been in Kampala we have celebrated World AIDS Day, and AIDS has been mentioned throughout the trip. I finally confess I have tried to ignore this disease and perhaps even deny it. Now God has put me right in the middle of it, and has showed me that He is in the center of it. I confess I have judged those who carry this disease as their own sin that has caused it, this is the consequence of the life they chose. I am wrong. Yes some this is the case, but others receive this disease from their husbands who bring it home, some are born with it. God extends His mercy, grace and love to ALL - why haven't I given the same to these who are in desperate need of it? I can't be in denial, judgement over this disease any more, and I can't be fearful of it either. God calls us to be compassionate, so compassionate I will be.

So today I gave a gift. We were all asked to bring gifts for woman who are infected with AIDS. I didn't have anything to offer nor did I know what to bring. But for the first time in my life I gave a gift that offered hope for a woman who is full of fear and worry and feeling hopeless. However, I confess I didn't give it wholeheartedly at first. I gave a gift that I was so proud of, something I spent much time over so I could have just the right gift, something I got that was just the right size for traveling, something I was soon to learn I hold for granted - my Bible. I put the bookmark in my favorite passage - Psalm 139. It wasn't until I heard the testimonies of a women with AIDS, as they shared their fears, worries, hopelessness, and anguish that I realized I was giving a gift that shares the hope they need to be reminded of. They need to be reminded God will never leave them nor forsake them, that He has a plan of future and hope. It was after I heard these testimonies my heart let go of the Bible and I prayed it would go into the hands that needed it most and bring her hope. God gave us such a precious gift, one I have taken for granted, and one that holds so many promises for us all and so much hope. I'm so sorry God! I continue to pray over the one that holds this gift, that through God's words she will be healed and know how beautiful she is.

I confess I haven't been exactly excited to go home. Don't take me wrong. I would love to see my family but I have truly enjoyed my stay here. For the first time in my life I felt as if I was home. But after this day I know it is time for me to go home and now I am ready. I did what I came to do and learned what I have come to learn. I pray and pray Uganda isn't just a memory but a new adventure I experience every year, a place that will remain my "home", and a place I can come and serve, and something I can take back home with me. I have learned a missionary isn't one to go out and change the world but to serve, encourage and help. Through this it is the missionary that changes, that is served and encouraged.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Bonnie's Testimony

(I have written his testimony the best I could. It would be awesome if I got his story on the camcorder...but I wasn't thinking! The tongue he tells his story in, and the passion, and the knowledge of how God brought him through his trials was so amazing and humbling to hear.)

Bonnie is one of twelve children, and the tenth born. In Uganda it is custom for one to support their children financially and education being a part of that obligation. During the time Bonnie was being raised it was ordinary for one to pay for public education. Now it is free, but there are still fees for books and such. In order for Bonnie's siblings and him to go to school his parents had to sell property to pay for schooling.

When Bonnie was between 11-13 years his father had no more money. It was typical for families to sell cattle or land to support the education, but Bonnie's parents ran out of money. It was decided and agreed upon that his parents would sell the rest of their land, pay for the older children's education, and when the older kid's graduated and started working they would pay for their younger sibling's education. With that agreement, land was sold and they moved into the village. Bonnie never saw electricity, running water nor toilets.

Bonnie's oldest brother graduated and became succesful. His brother chose Bonnie over all his other siblings to come and live with him. The life they lived was great - very exciting at such an impressionable age. He was driven around in the company car, and Bonnie was proud, always very excited. His brother lived a worldly life, and had a girlfriend who lived with him. However, they soon married after Bonnie's arrival. But with this life came temptations. Bonnie's brother waisted his life with alcohol and many women. He never knew God. Because of his lifestyle he contracted AIDS. He was moved to the hospital, stayed in a private wing for people with money, and then requested to see his parents. By the time his parents came, Bonnie's brother was in a coma and then died.

Bonnie remained with his brother's wife for two months. His brother and sister-in-law and a four month old boby. The baby died three months after Bonnie's brother's death. The wife and mother started getting sick and then died too.

Bonnie then moved in with his second oldest brother who was in the University and also working. His brother became sick, and had to go to the hospital. There Bonnie stayed by his brother's bed for seven days, before his brother's death.

The third oldest brother was just entering the University and was still needing support himself, so Bonnie did not go to live with him.
The fourth born was bad. He had deserted the army and was constantly getting into trouble, and was jail bound. Bonnie ended up statying with him until he was put in jail.

Bonnie then went to stay with the fifth born brother. His lifestyle wasn't any different than any of his previous brothers. His brother too became sick. Finally Bonnie had noticed all the sickness, all the death and asked his brother "are you going to die?", and his borther responded "yes, it's true." His brother made a deal with Bonnie, that Bonnie was not to die with AIDS - which meant no girls, no drugs, no alcohol. It wsan't until Bonnie's brother pleaded with tears that Bonnie took him seriously.

All five brothers died within two years, and all died because of AIDS.

All five brothers lived outside of Kapala. The fifth brother was renting a small one bedroom home, but hadn't paid rent for four months. Bonnie hadn't known when he returned to this home after his brother's death. The landowner came questioning about the missed rent money and Bonnie shared about what had happened with his brother. The landowner said "he didn't build the house for people with problems", and demanded Bonnie to gather everything and get out. Bonnie begged that he could stay, but the landowner just started throwing everything out. Bonnie gathered his things and placed them at the edge of the road. He had no where to go. He had a small radio and 3,000 shillings (from condolences). At 5:00 he became hungry so he took his shillings to get a meal, and at 10:00 he returned with a full stomach, no money and still nowhere to go. The was Bonnie's first night on the street (he was close to 17 yrs of age). He was frustrated at the landowner, who he thought was too proud, and he was determined to change his mind. Bonnie was unsuccesful.

Bonnie went to a family friend who was married with all daughters. After the family fed him, Bonnie explained his situation and asked to stay. The wife was concerned with Bonnie's motives and because they had all daughters Bonnie was refused.

Bonnie went to the slums. There he found a store person and asked if he could work. Bonnie was willing to do anything so he could stay. Bonnie then watched the store during the night in exchange for a place to stay - a bench outside the store.

Bonnie was now a street kid. He would go to the rubbish pile looking for something to eat.

Bonnie saw a man nearby who had lots of cows, so he went to him asking if he could fetch water for his cows for money. It was agreed. Bonnie worked, fetched the water, but no money was ever given. However he did receive meat and for that Bonnie was grateful. This man ended up transfering to another "branch" and hired a caregiver to take care of the cows. This caregiver ended Bonnie's job, for he wasn't needed. Bonnie returned to the rubbish piles, where he couldn't find food.

Bonnie remembered about his stay at the hospital when his brother was dying. He remembered the corn bread and beans that were served to the patients, and remembered how the sick patients didn't always eat their food. Bonnie went. He disguised himself as a worker, would retrieve the meals for the patients and then would eat it. After a week it was noticed how he came and went. Bonnie was caught and wasn't able to be there anymore.

Bonnie began to think how God wasn't fair. Bonnie saw others with many bananas, many chickens, much milk and some with big homes with only four people inside of it. Bonnie had nothing. He grew bitter.

Bonnie would play soccer with his friends. He saw how his friends enjoyed girls, drugs and alcohol. At this time he also met a rich man who happened to be very nice. He had asked Bonnie to stay at a house of his and gather all the ropes that tied the cows legs together. Bonnie agreed. Bonnie's friends discovered what Bonnie was doing and started coming into the house, and then bringing their "entertainment". Before long the girls (who were prostitutes) would get picked up from this house. Soon the homeowner discovered what was happening in his home and told Bonnie to go.

Bonnie had no money to stay at the village, no money for food and none for transportation to take him to his parent's home. Bonnie also had no more brothers to turn to. Bonnie began lying to people on the street that he had been beaten and his money had been stolen in order to survive. He did find another man who gave Bonnie a small job of counting cows, but it only lasted for a while. Bonnie returned back to the slums. He continued to look for food, but found nothing.

He found someone who was willing to hire Bonnie to clean, do the laundry, do everything for food. During the time the mother was gone, her boys made Bonnie work extra hard, each task given with a promise of food. When Bonnie completed the work they wouldn't give him the food as promised. Bonnie was hungry and cried. The boys teased him and threw the food on the rubbish pile. When the mother returned she made her boys get the food out of the pile and give it to Bonnie.

Bonnie cried. He hated God for his situation. He didn't feel cared for. He believed rich men where his enemy, for they were heartless, mean, and uncaring.

Bonnie continued to play soccer and played for a school for food. He played each time the team needed him, but soon realized he was being used. He stood up for himself and told the school he wouldn't play soccer anymore for them. The school offered Bonnie to attend the school, but Bonnie couldnt' afford it. He argued with the school master how the school is succesful, how they have many trophies because of Bonnie's talents and Bonnie was in need of schooling. The school finally agreed to pay half of the tuition, but Bonnie pressed on, telling the school master of the life he had and how he couldn't pay for anything. The school agreed to sponsor Bonnie. But Bonnie still didn't have a place to stay. It was at this school Bonnie finished primary school, and now had a yearning for secondary school.

Bonnie went to visit the secondary school and to try and get in. He went to the office, lied that the prinicpal was expeccting him and got to see her. But it was too late, admissions were the previous week, and now others were on their second visit. He told his story. It was then asked "who is going to pay for your schooling?" , and Bonnie replied "no one". She told him no once receives a sponsorship. He pleaded to work for his schooling but was only turned away. He left, and as he reached the gate he was called back to be accepted at the school - sponsored. Bonnie would walk to school, leaving at 5:30am, freshen up at school, go to school, then to work and walk back home, returning at 10:00pm.

Bonnie wanted to become a prefect and he did. He felt so big in his uniform He was a prefect for six years. In 2001 he finished school and then went back to the village. Bonnie did have another brother who was in the army, but because of health reasons he was released of duty and given some money. With that money he bought a one room house, one matress (that filled the room) and shared it all with Bonnie..

Bonnie had returned to the family friend who rejected him as asked him about a job. He was referred to a friend of theirs who ended up getting Bonnie a job with the government. Bonnie was ideal for the job because he was young and fresh out of school. He received his first 150,000 shillings and stood in awe and disbelief because he never held so much, and wondered what to do with it. His brother would live the same lifestyle his previous brothers did and would bring girls home. Bonnie didn't want that situation. so Bonnie went out, bought his own one room home and his own mattress. Bonnie still had his radio. As he lied in his bed, after being filled from eating and being quite satisfied, he listened to his music and was pleased. He thanked God. God had impressed upon him that he needed to give half of his salary to God for a thank offering.

Bonnie didn't have a church but knew of someone who went to KPC, so he went. He wanted to just go in, put his offering in and walk out. He sat in the balcony where he heard and sang praise songs. He heard the pstor preach - and preach about Bonnie's life. It was then Bonnie received Christ and was saved. (2002)

Bonnie attended discipleship classes for new believers, started in the ushering minsitry, attended and now leads a cell group. Bonnie found life in the church and joyed volunteering whenever he was given the chance. He would even take time off of work for certain events. It was through church, through volunteering that he learned and realized just how much God loved him. When KPC - North opened he went there and became a head usher.

After attending a Watoto conference, he was interviwed and then asked to join the ministry. Bonnie left his post office job and has been with Watoto ever since.

I visited Bonnie's home - a two bedroom home that would fit in my family room. He welcomes all into his home. He has taken in his nephew, who's dad died from AIDS and his mom has AIDS. Bonnie has a stove and cooking area in his bedroom. His cell group comes and meets in his living room each week. The toilet is outside where he shares it with the landlord who lives in a bigger house next door. He does his wash with a basin. And Bonnie is so proud of what he has. Bonnie also has a family now, through the body of Christ. Bonnie is so rich because he found his life through Christ and is so thankful for God and all He has seen Bonnie through. Bonnie's eyes express constant joy and excitement - always celebrating His God.

A Humbling Day

More good-byes, more tears. It would be easier to be the one leaving instead of constantly saying good-bye. We even had to say good-bye to three of our hosts and a friend of theirs - who as become a friend to us. I have enjoyed all the laughter, all the connections and the times we have been able to share with each other. We have all been able to call this guest house our home, and we have been cared for so much. We have received love and God has been in the center of it all.

We went to the bus once again. Today has impacted me more than any other day. We drove through downtown Kapala where 250,000 people are at the market. People are buying and selling, walking, bicylcing or on "borda bordas" or in cars. Constant movement...yet we couldn't move, because of the disorganization of the street traffic and being there is so many people. We would drive, move about one foot (if we were lucky), then turn the engine off. So many cars, not traffic lights, no directions - a complete zoo!

Once we went through downtown we went to our first slum. We got off the bus and walked - and people stared. We marched through this area, by their "store", by their homes and by their lives - and they stared. Some weren't just staring, some were laughing and some were more likely making cutting remarks. However some did smile and some received our 'hellos' and some extended kindness to us. But what stood out for me is the constant "mzoongoo" (whit person) yelled as the kids pointed. This was the first time I wished I was black so I wouldn't stand out. I haven't noticed color, or perhaps I have - but today I knew for the first time I was the minority, perhaps even a "freak". As we continued to walk, kids continued to yell, and gathered and followed us, and some even thought we were with the Queen. More and more kids followed, all greeting us and happy to shake our hands or give us "high-fives". As I walked one girl actually ran up to me from behind, grabbed my arm and ran away. I htink she thought my color was going to feel different than hers. There was another girl who quietly came along side of me and I was able to reach out and hug her. Then I saw it - I saw how special she felt through the touch of a hug, she felt priviledged and loved.

I hurt for these people. One room homes, some the size of our sheds. They gathered their food, but you knew it took everything they had. One time we followed the path and it took us through the homes and everyone was doing their cooking outside. I felt as an intruder, invading their privacy and walking right into their homes without an invitation. I asked Bonnie (our host) where they get their drinking water? They now have four spickets where they line up to fill their jugs, but before they'd get it wherever they could. The water I saw in the canal was dirty - full of trash, not flowing and who knows what other waste lied in it. They could and would drink it. They were used to it so they wouldn't be sick from it as you and I would. And then I realized..."Have we even taken water for granted?"

We proceeded back to the bus. We went to Bonnie's house - his two room house. A home he was so proud of! After hearing his testimony (posted next) it is understod why. And then I realized "shouldn't I be like Bonnie too? Proud of what I have and not always looking for more?"

We went to another slum. Weathered faces, strong faces, bitter and tired faces, and smiling faces all greeted us. Kids were calling out to the "Mzungoos", some laughing but mostly hesitantion was their reaction. We only had a few follow us. But my heart remained heavy just the same.

I had been praying to become closer to God throughout this whole trip, to have open ears to hear Him. And I wonder if God was speaking through these people. God loves these people just like you, just like me. What can we do to help? How can we be instruments for God? It isn't a situation where they are lazy, but these are hard-working people willing to do whatever they can to survive.
We went to KPC - North, had our lunch. But how could I eat with the poverty I had just seen?

The youth at the church welcomed us and presented us with a couple of dances. They go to school and then find their afternoons and any spare time at the church. Many people find Christians aren't fun nor full of life, but it is through Christ and His church these kids find life is full!

Today was a humbling day.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Laughter...A Great Gift

I have noticed there hasn't been a day without laughter...I mean serious laughter. For me that is a huge gift from God. I love to laugh but fear my "reputation", or fear I may embarass my husband, or fear that I'm in not a good example before my girls. I have so many responsibilities at home too that causes laughter to be far and few between. My hearts desire is to bring this laughter home, and let it be part of our household once again.

As I ponder the laughter, the friendliness and the "African time clock", I am reminder of how many supporters sent me and to change a bit of Uganda. But I hope to bring Uganda back with me and change a little bit of America.

The Journey Home Begins

I woke to tears this morning. Our first group of people left this morning, my new friends were going home. What a gift God has given me. I now have connections and friends all over the world. I have to confess too that I'm jealous of those who are leaving and heading home. I am ready to be home with Duane and my girls.

Tonight - more tears, for more of our group is heading home. Our group is smaller and thoughts of home are more rapid in my mind. I'm ready to be at home in my husband's arms, listening to the girls. What I miss most are the small things - the way my husband looks at me or the way he holds my hands, walking my girls to their classes each day or having lunch with them on Wednesdays. I am ready to be home and appreciate these moments once again.

It was mentioned to us by our hosts how one of the KPC pastors spoke of a missionary who spent much time in Africa and India; reaching and serving. It happened that when she got on the plane, President Ronald Reagan was on the same plane. When he got off the plane he was greeted with a 21 gun salute and when she got off; nothing. The country had been with the greatness of one who gave of herself for many years, but recognized the one who had power. The missionary questioned her work. But God reminded her this earthly place wasn't her home, and that her celebration is waiting for her at home with her Father. We were reminded that our lives are like that missionary. We arrived the same time as the Queen and Prince of England, and arrived the same time as Chogm, and with all the military and police that lined the streets. Uganda has welcomed all these people and events but our celebration is waiting at home with our Father.

I am thankful to our hosts, to so many welcoming Ugandans and the time we have had to enjoy and learn of the life in Uganda. I feel we haven't spent as much time as we should have to help and serve Watoto. But they feel blessed, and are thankful and encouraged. And we feel the same.
I hope I have grasped all God wanted to impress upon me. I know I have trusted and relied on Him and knew I was safe because of Him. I knew He was always with me, for I never was alone. I am grateful for our God.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Who Improves Who?

Today was a full driving day - nothing else. But a time for me to be finally alone with God. A time to praise Him and thank Him.
Having so many countries represented here I can't help but know that God loves all His children. And all our countries need to repent of our selfish ways, turn to Jesus and let Him have His countries once again.
I have been watching the life here through the Ugandans. I know I was sent thinking that we could come and help Uganda, help them improve their ways and perhaps even make them more successful. I notice that Uganda has a lot of disorganization and from what I hear isn't totally unified, but I haven't heard one complaint. There are so many people. I see them going to collect the water down the road, carrying anything on their heads - fruit, pots of potatoes, tree branches - anything. They aren't complaining that their back hurts - or their head. They aren't whining to go to a chiropractor or even for an aspirin. A matter-of-fact I see that these people are strong and have perfect posture. They walk, bike or use the "borda borda" and don't complain that they don't have a car. I see that people are constantly working, never complaining that they have to go but thankful that they have the work. We drive through different sections of the city and even other cities and people are always waving at us. Yes, some are asking for handouts and some are staring at all these white people, but for the most part everyone has been so welcoming, either with their waves, smiles or their invitations into their homes. And then as I ponder all this I can't help but wonder is it us that needs to come in and "improve" them and their ways or rather allow their lifestyles to lead us to change our ways?

And as I thought about Watoto I can't help but recognize how they are getting it right. Watoto isn't seeing parent to adopt all these children, nor sending them to other countries in the process but instead taking responsibility of their country's need and educating them to be strong, healthy leaders; thus improving Uganda. Through education and especially through Christ they are changing Uganda - through one child at a time.

We did have an interesting moment on our travel back to Kampala when we stopped to take a potty break at a school. Being that this was a village far away from Kampala, English isn't spoken and it was obvious they had never seen a white person before. The kids gathered around the side of the bus and was mesmerized, interested (now I know what the animals in cages feel like!). One of our teammates steeped out of the bus to greet the children, they were hesitant and nervous but interested and curious. She extended her hand to get them to give her a "five", but the were confused and didn't know what she was doing. And then one child came up and put his hand in hers, and the others followed. Most wanted to see if white felt different than black. I always forget about color until moments like these. But I am thankful that God created color, and how He doesn't treat anyone of us different because of it!

Monday, December 3, 2007

A Reminder of God's Grace

On out safari tonight we ended in the middle of a herd of about fifty giraffes. I was in disbelief, that where ever I looked I saw such a tall, graceful creature. As I watch them, watch their gentleness and their graceful disposition I am reminded of God. And as I see the giraffes all around us, I am reminded of the grace that is all around us each day if we would just take the time to see it.

I don't want to forget to mention how hot it has been since the moment I arrived in Africa. I am constantly feeling sticky, but now here in the jungle (or dessert) it is even hotter, about 100 degrees and with the humidity it feels even hotter. I am looking forward to the winter waiting for me at home.

At dinner tonight I discovered fireflies! They flash themselves with a neon green light. Just more evidence of God and more reason for me to be more in awe of Him! And how He would think of such creativity even in an insect! Amazing!

I keep wishing my family was here to enjoy all this. Oh, how I miss them!

You Are a Creative God!

God, how amazing you are! You are such a beautiful God, for you have shown my so much of your beauty in the people, the culture, the land and now your animals. How you can think of each animal should look like....and so many different types of animals! You just amaze me! Thank you for allowing me to experience you in another part of your world. I am grateful.

Here I am, on the other side of the world. I'm experiencing summer when home is having their first snow. I am sitting next to the River Nile - a river you carried a man, then a baby who would lead your people. I just can't believe that I'm here. I am grateful.

I continue to watch your creation. I continue to see your artistic abilities as I watch the elephants, crocodiles, water buffalos, antelopes and hippos (did I mention they are my favorite?). Today I see them all come together, down to the river to drink. As I watch I can't help but know that you are can anyone question if there is a God? Not only have you created so much, but though to give each continent it's own unique animals. You are God..You alone! And I am grateful!

Thank you again for allowing me to see your animals. Thank you for the hippos and their twirling ears, thank you for the mother lions protecting their young, and thank you even for the scary smile of a crocodile. Thank you, I am so grateful!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

God's Creativity In Africa

We woke up at 3:00 AM this morning! It was early and we were in the bus by 4:00 AM. We drove for seven hourse until we reached our Safari. I have to admit, knowing Duane and the girls would enjoy this part of the trip made the excitement of it all lesson. We saw it all! Babboons, monkeys, giraffes, antelopes, different types of birds, cape buffalos, water bufalos, hippos (my favortite!), elephants and lions - we saw it. And it is my favorite way to marvel how a creative God we have! My heart sored with excitement but amazement too of God's creation, I thank God for His beauty throughout the land and through these animals, and that I am able to experience Him this way.
Our lodge is amazing, so amazing that I have forgotten that I am in Africa. Apparently a famous movie was filmed at this lodge (can't remember the name of the movie because I never saw it) and Hemingway had stayed here.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Africa Full of Tradition

I realized today how I came miles away from home to serve and how I feel it has been everyone else who has served me.

After the babies home we went to Suubi village to have a traditional lunch with one of the families (One mom and eight children). When we got off the bus I was greeted by a boy named Nathan, who impressed me because not only was he friendly but was knowledgeable and a clear leader. We followed him to his home where we met his four brothers (Derrick, David, Anthony, Francis), sister (Christina) and mom (Peruth). Two of his brothers (David and Colline) were on tour with the children's choir. We learned of the kids favorite subjects, favorite pasttimes as they asked us about our countries. Soccer (called Football in Uganda) seems to be the favorite. Nathan's class size is about 42, but he mentioned if he went to school outside the village it would be a class of 200!

The lunch was traditional and surprisingly very good! It concisted of matooke (bananas) with Ebinyeebua (groundnuts), obumonde (Irish potatotes), niholao (chicken), nyama (meat), mucheere (rice), chapatis (like a pita or thick tortilla), greens (vegatables), emanansi (pineapple) and amrazi (water). We enjoyed ourselves tremendously, gave some gfits and then the kids walked us up to the bus.

We went to church tonight. I love it is exciting, and tonight we had the priviledge of sharing communion with new friends and in Africa.

Today was good. I feel blessed and I'm starting to understand what that means. Time God has devoted to teach me, pour more wisdom and love into me to make me that much more complete.

Live Like No Other...

More of my heart was stolen today. We went back to the Watoto's babies home where I found a six month old baby boy named Noah. It felt good to just hold a baby again. his smile was inviting and he responded to touch and playing. I sang "Jesus Loves You" over and over again. I also sang to him "Who Built The Boat? Noah, Noah" which he loved and laughed to. I prayed over him and told him over and over again how God has a purpose for his life. His is not forgotten and his father is a Might God. I took him outside where he was mesmerized by the breeze and the trees blowing by it. I rocked him and sang to him and then he was asleep. But not to long for he had to wake to be fed. All the babies are kept to a schedule because there are so many and nap time is rest time for the "moms".

I experienced a love for Noah, and like I held with my own babies. I realized that I have had a fear that I wouldn't love our son, Elijah as I love my three girls. I thought it couldn't be possible for my girls are from my womb...Elijah isn't. It has to be different. But oh, never thought it could so different - that it could be even that much more amazing! It's a beautiful thing how God can bring a man and a woman together to create a baby. But to have a child across the world, created through another two people for us, and we for this little boy, I feel more ready today than ever to welcome Elijah into our home and know that I am able to love him as my own, but as a special gift.

I saw how Noah was loved by many of the staff, he had many hearts. I also saw realized that for the couple of hours we were there he has probably never been held for so long. What a gift for him. He probably hadn't been outside much either, which he enjoyed so much. I couldn't find Noah's story, but I did learn of another - a 5 month old girls who at birth was left in a plastic bag and found in a dumpster. Today she is strong, active and healthy. These babies all have sad stories, but through each of them God's character is revealed. We have a God who heals, who saves and protects and loves abundantly.