Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Jubilee then Peace!

Jubilee then Peace!

My first Saturday at Compassion's Center Day I met God's beautiful gift, Giftee. She and I spent the day dancing and laughing together. Then about midday she fell asleep in my lap. I sang over her the song my mum used to sing over me, In the Garden. It stands out as one of my favorite days. Since then, Giftee runs to find me whenever she and her mom  come to Victory. The day I met her mom she was very pregnant. She told me she was due in March, and because we are in a 3rd world country, she did not know if she was having a boy or a girl. I remember praying then that maybe Harriet (Gift's mom) would let me name her new baby. *Which is not impossible. Our team has given many names to babies and even to a young girl who converted to Christianity from Islam.


This Saturday I inquired to some of the Compassion staff about Harriet's condition because I had not seen her for two weeks. Turns out she had just given birth 3 days before to twin girls! I don't think I could have been more excited! I was told that the birth went very well, and that Harriet was ready to receive visitors. (Which I realize now was a funny question to ask as I found out later that after giving birth on Wednesday to twin girls, she WALKED home on Thursday with the twins in tow!) Unfortunately, I was delayed in seeing her for three more days.

Two days ago, my roommates, Carrie-Anne and Marissa, and I went walking around Lira in the hopes of finding where Giftee and her family lived, but we had also been given the task to minister in the ways Jesus did in the gospels. So, we set out praying for direction because we had NO idea where Gifteee lived.
We found ourselves in a market area we had never been to before and we were a little discouraged because we didn't know who we were supposed to talk to. Finally we just stopped on a random corner at a random shop and talked with a random yound man who runs that little stand. His name is Jasper and his music name is Greedy (We're gonna talk with him about that..haha!) He is a musician and he writes Reggae and Hip Hop songs. Gospel songs, in fact, because he loves Jesus! We asked him the location of Samaritan's Purse because we were told Giftee lived near their buidling. Turns out, it was very close to where we were. Jasper offered to take us, but we needed to return to Victory to work in the Compassion office. We promised to

That brings me to yesterday! We returned to Jasper's stand; this time with Brittany, one of our team leaders. Jasper offered again to take us to Samaritan's Purse, and this time we accepted. On the way we stopped to greet Jasper's mom. Her name is Molly and she runs another little shop/stand nearby. Get this!...As we are greeting her, she tells us, without any prompting from us, "I am the Aunt of Gift"...that's Giftee! HA! God is so amazing! Let's recap: We randomy began walking through Lira praying that we might randomly stumble upon Samaritan's Purse to find Giftee's home. Then, while discouraged, we randomly stop and talk to a random young and joyful shop owner, and it randomly turns out that he is Giftee's cousin! Really?! What are the odds?! God is SO VERY GOOD!

But just wait, this is the best part of the story. When we arrived at Giftee's home many members of her family were there. We asked Harriet what she had named the twins and she said that she had not, she was waiting for us to come and name them! In case you haven't figured it out, the names we chose are the title of this blog. When holding baby Apio (a last name given to the first-born of twins here in Uganda, and currently what we were calling baby #1) I thought only of the word joy. My teammates chose Jubilee! Naming baby Acen (same as above, only for the second born) took a little bit longer. I was thinking Grace or Peace and while holding her I was leaning towards Peace. We talked about MANY names. Finally the baby's grandmother said Peace! I was thrilled! So we put four names to Harriet for her to decide. She picked Peace! So Giftee's sisters are now called Apio Jubilee and Acen Peace. (Last names are written and spoken first in Uganda.) We all agreed Peace would be a good, hopefully prophetic name for the little one as Giftee is quite a handful and her sister's name is Jubilee. Harriet could use a little peace and quiet on occassion. Though don't underestimate her; she is African strong. When we arrived she was doing laundry. Which in Uganda means standing and bending over a bucket to wash every item by hand. Note that this was six days after giving birth to the twins.

So yesterday, I helped to name to precious baby girls! I can't wait to see what tomorrow has in store!

With great joy and peace,


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What I'm Learning

When thinking about what I wanted to say in this post, I kept coming up blank. There are just too many amazing stories I could tell. There are too many daily occurrences that I think to myself when they happen "oh, file that away for later." There is just too much! But really it is just enough.

It is just enough to open my eyes to the serious needs all around me.  Women, men, and children are struggling with HIV/AIDS when there are medicines available that could prolong their lives. There are women who get their medications only to have their drunk husbands take it from them, or beat them because they had to spend 3 days in the hospital just to qualify to receive it. Children want so badly to go to school, but their families can't afford it, or they live in a home where their father refuses to pay and their mother can't work hard enough to feed the family of 9 and afford school fees for 7. Then there are the rare families that somehow pinch out just enough to cover the cost of a child's school fees, uniform fees, and supply fees for a year, but that child receives an education that would shut down an American school for its ineffectiveness.

It is just enough for me to understand, not because I have read, but because I have experienced the harder way of life here. There is no such thing as air conditioning. Power outages happen daily, often multiple times a day, and sometimes for 4+ hours at a time. Washing machines exist, somewhere...I think. All of my laundry is done in a bucket with my own two hands. Food is cooked outside over a charcoal fire. Red dirt/dust gets everywhere (not an exaggeration). Bugs get everywhere. Refrigeration is rare. Red lights don't exist, nor do sidewalks, nor do stop signs, but there are lots of speed bumps. Most roads are dirt though, so it really wouldn't make a difference. There is a severe shortage of trained medical personnel. Water comes out of a well...I hope you live close to one, because a 2 mile walk in this heat without water is excruciating (For us Americans water comes from a bottle. We have to watch out for bacteria and parasites that our immune systems aren't used to.) This is by no means an exhaustive list, and I would not even pretend to understand fully why life is hard here as a Ugandan. But I have witnessed many things that I would like to attempt to relay to you.

Hospitals here are not places of comfort where one can trust that someone will know what is wrong and be able to fix it. Instead they are overcrowded, hot, and very heavy/sad places. In the children's ward there are no beautiful murals of trees and giraffes, in their place are red dirt walls with chipped paint and spiders.

I don't say all of this to write yet another story of an East Africa country that is desperate for relief. This shouldn't be another essay that makes you cry or feel bad for people living in 3rd World nations. I'm just trying to put into perspective that there is another world out there. Outside of our air-conditioned, cable ready, Wi-fi connected lives. And amazingly enough, the people here have almost NO IDEA! They don't think of their lives in comparison to the lives of 1st worlders. They are happy, beautiful, joyful people who simply get up every morning in a different situation than you found yourself in when your alarm clock woke you up this morning. And what is even more amazing? God loves these people as much as He loves us. His desire for them is that they live full lives for His glory. Odd, isn't that the same thing He desires for me and you? I know that I write a lot on the many reasons you should drop what you're doing and head to a foreign country, but I really can't help it. With what I'm learning, the only response I have is to write to the world that they should come and experience this too.

I'm learning a new language. I'm learning a new style of song. I'm learning a new diet. I'm learning a new way to carry things (on my head). I'm learning how to do things in a more primitive, yet strangely more effective way. I'm learning a new culture. I'm learning to say yes with my eyebrows. I'm learning not to ask what's in the food. I'm learning compassion. I'm learning about helplessness. I'm learning that I can't fix everything. I'm learning that I don't know everything. I'm learning that life in Uganda for an uneducated girl means that they need to find a husband, no matter what he is like. I'm learning that children sometimes were never taught to smile. Sometimes they've never been hugged or have never heard the words "I love you." I'm learning that when they are smiled at, waved at, hugged, and told "I love you" by a mzungu (me), that it means the world to them and instantly makes me their new best friend. I'm learning that God is the only thing getting me through the day. I'm learning that depending on Him for everything I need is scary, hard, and very frustrating, but SO WORTH IT!

What I'm learning in pictures...

Sweet Giftee who fell asleep in my arms. The doctors aren't sure what is wrong with her, but she is sick all the time and has thick joints. She is truly a gift!

Mary is going to be a nurse and so I let her do my malaria test. Notice which one of us freaked out...
We made Valentine's cards to hand out in town. This was Logan's reaction to my Valentine! 
This is Susan, the woman who prepares our amazing meals, and she LOVED her Valentine from the team!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

We've Got it Down to an Art

We've got it down to and ART!

Think about it! We have lights, sound, great talent, knowledge of Christianity, knowledge of technical equipment, knowledge of music, knowledge of ministry, knowledge of accounting, etc. We also have vacation days in our jobs. We have (most of us) a desire to make a difference. Why don't we skip that trip to Disney World, or that  trip to the beach, and instead follow the command of Christ and share the knowledge God has given us with the people around the world who have the desire to reach the lost, who often work harder than we do to accomplish His kingdom on earth.

God has not asked us to feed the hungry, clothe and shelter the poor, care for the orphan and the widow, and reach all nations. He has not asked. He has commanded us. Matthew 28:18-20
And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world."

I know that some of you feel that you are not called to missions, or you might say that is just not something I could do - I'm not able to live in those conditions - I'm not cut out for that work - I'm afraid - It's dangerous - Others will go, and maybe I'll bless them. To the first statement, my reply is simple. Go and read Matt. 28 again. ALL are called to missions. It won't look the same for everyone, but all are called.

To the others, those feelings are NOT of God. Christ didn't die so that you could be fearful, or discouraged, or so you could speak death (and those are words of death) into your life. But Christ died so that we might live, that we would not have a spirit of fear, but of power and love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).

Imagine what you could bring to a desperate community in even one week's time of service. Let me give you an idea...Here in Lira, Victory Outreach serves multiple districts of Uganda. There is a media team. - I know two people perfect to teach them new things and could in one week of volunteering, they could turn their outreach potential upside down. - There are 7 primary schools and one high school. - I know more teachers than I could count who could bring supplies, who could instruct teachers in proven methods, and who would go home a better teacher, better able to transform their classrooms with their stories. - There is an agricultural program. - I know farmers. And just so you know, farming could help bring many people and communities our of poverty and starvation. - There are child development programs and Compassion International sponsored children. There are many pastors, young pastors, and future leaders. There are accountants and businessmen who are serving the church, various ministries, and the community. There are clinics and hospitals being built, and young people eager to be nurses and doctors.

If you think this work is hard, think again! You do those jobs EVERYDAY! And your "everyday used" knowledge and skill set could bless and change the world. Still didn't see something that you could do? What this world needs more than knowledge is the love of Christ. Can you hold an orphan? Can you encourage a widow? Can you sing and dance with children? Can you clean a room? Doing these things will show God's love to a world desperate for, not money, not food, not knowledge, but something that will be with them through every circumstance. Something that will comfort and love them. That something is Jesus Christ. He works and loves through His body. We are His body. If we say no, or I'm scared, unable, not interested, afraid of failure, then His body is crippled.

Speak life over yourself. And ask God to reveal to you what your service looks like through His eyes. I promise it won't look scary, but instead, beautiful! Maybe it will look like one week, maybe 4 months, 6 months, 2 years,...I'm not sure. But I am sure He has a plan for your life. Jeremiah 29:11
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord.

Don't miss this. I'm praying for you! I pray that the next time you save up to book a vacation that a location in need of Christ will be the first one to enter your mind. I love you. Christ loves you.

From Uganda,


The mzungu(me) with Ruth, Oliver, and Lucky! Making faces at Happy who took the photo!