A new start… a new location… a new adventure! (and a new blog)

Friends! I am at the 2 month mark of being home. The transition was different than I expected. I didn’t have any culture shock, except for the fact that I could drink tap water. That threw me for a loop. So many people come home hating the west because of the wealth. But I didn’t feel harsh feelings towards the west (hallelujah). I really enjoy hot showers, comfortable beds, and decent internet. The culture shock I expected, I didn’t experience. However, the emotional exhaustion was something I wasn’t prepared for. The first month I crashed. I didn’t realize how much I gave and how exhausted I was upon coming home. I couldn’t function emotionally or relationally. But now, I am refreshed and ready for what is next!

My new adventure starts tomorrow! I’m moving to Waco and I’m leaving tomorrow morning!  With new starts and new adventures and new homes come new blogs! I would love to continue to write about my experiences into the heart of Jesus… wherever he leads me. Please, follow my new blog and join me in this journey!!

www.abidemybeloved.wordpress.com 

Goodbye Gulu

Goodbye Gulu.

You are a city that marks so many things for me. I will remember you as a place that was both a desert and a garden. I questioned God, felt like he was so far away from me, and then romanced by him. He tenderly reminded me that He was near and the fruit became abundant.

Gulu, you provided space for me to become disciplined. I left home with no sense of discipline or desire to do difficult things. I will return with a sense of purpose and rigor to work through hard places with God.

You are the home of a people so incredibly beautiful, my heart was captured. Instead of focusing on myself, my heart shifted and grew with love for the nations.

Gulu, you are a city that allowed me to transform. You gave me space to grow and change. In you I was removed from everything I knew and was comfortable in and le.

God, thanks for giving me Gulu. You have been so good and so kind to me to bring me to a beautiful place, mold my heart to match yours, and send me back to my family.

Goodbye Gulu. It’s been good. I hope we’ll see each other again.

Thieves.

A thief was caught yesterday. The whole neighborhood chased the man down and brought him back. They sat him on the ground under the tree. As he sat there, the neighborhood surrounded him and discussed his fate. All of the Munu’s stood watching the whole ordeal from our own yard. We couldn’t hear nor understand what was happening. Suddenly, the kids were sent away from the pack. I saw some of the crowd pull branches off the tree. The man was going to be “caned seriously.” The whole ordeal made me nauseous. I hated the idea that this man would be beaten by the public. The herded the man up onto his feet and began walking him down the street. It seems that they decided to forego the beating and take the man to the police station instead. The whole ordeal made me sick to my stomach.

He got off easy. Real easy. It is common knowledge that the justice system in this country is nonexistent. The only effective system is a renegade beating system. You take someone to the police, and they can get away with almost anything with a big enough bribe.

So what do you do in this situation? Do you approve the beating system in order to administer effective justice and cause change, or do you fight for a more organized system?

John 8 comes to mind when I think about all of this. A woman was caught in adultery. The leaders brought her out for justice. They were going to stone her. “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the very act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” This WAS their justice system. And yet Jesus said “All right, stone her. But let those who have never sinned throw the first stones!” All of the people dropped their stones and walked away. Jesus looked at the woman and said “Go and sin no more.”

Jesus went against the system and the culture. The Ugandans have created their own justice system when the old stem is broken. Which works? We say to be like Jesus… but to human minds that seems like it will not work.

My question is this: who in that circle wasn’t a thief. How many times have I borrowed someone’s pen and never gave it back? Who in that circle had borrowed shillings and never returned them? Who isn’t a thief. Who shouldn’t have been killed.

If you are going to kill one thief, you should kill them all. That’s true justice. So maybe Jesus was onto something after all….

Fruitfulness.

When I first went to Lira in November, I was skeptical about the kind of fruit we would see. I thought it would be a week of sharing the gospel, seeing healings, and loving Jesus at an exhausting pace.

We left Lira this time with a church that is meeting Sunday mornings on a weekly basis. Who would have thought that one week monthly outreaches would result in a new church in that town?!

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I met George, Haron, and Boniface all on the same day in November. They all received Jesus. Guess what, these three are the ones leading this church faithfully as we leave, with the faithful guidance of the wonderful long term family that recently moved to Lira.

 

 

 

 

I am amazed that in 6 short weeks, God can move so mightily. These three are hearing God speak to the and they are responding appropriately – in obedience. I wish I could continue to watch them grow and mature in the Lord, but the Holy Spirit himself is a far better discipler than I ever could be. I know that in our absence, the Lord will meet them intimately and deeply.

Be praying for the church in Lira. I know that if I were to return in 3 years, the church will be stronger, better, and continuing to grow under the leadership of the Lord.

Future Plans (drumroll please…)

Hey friends and family. 

Less than one month and I will be home. It’s crazy. I can’t believe that this adventure in Uganda is coming to a close. I can honestly say that I have not regretted a single moment, and God has done some phenomenal things in my life and heart. I have learned so much about the Father and his character, his heart, and his ways. He truly is so good.

I think maybe now would be a great time to announce my future plans. If you hadn’t already heard, I have decided to move to Waco next year to continue with Antioch in their discipleship training school, Elevate. While I am attending Elevate I will also be pursuing a nursing career in Waco. (Yay for transferring professional licenses….) I have no idea what is next post-elevate, but I am sure of this: God is going to do great things, and I can’t wait to see what other adventures are up his sleeve. I get the inkling that my time overseas is not limited to my 8 months in Uganda and Elevate outreach. 

Part of this decision is made from a heart level: I want all that God has for me, and I think Elevate will provide an opportunity to receive. It is also strategic. I have loved my time with AMI, and if I were to ever go overseas again, I truly hope that it would be with AMI. I am proud to be an Antioch Missionary and would love to continue with them in the future. Elevate is the first step towards future mission work with AMI. 

So be excited with me! I’m pumped for what’s next! God has promised greatness and I am running toward it with all I have. 

Love. 

I’m worth it.

Guess what? I’m worth it.

His gaze locked on mine. His eyes baring all the secrets of my heart and soul. He saw deep into the depths of who I am and what I’ve done. The thorns pierced the flesh of his brow. The blood ran down his face. It trickled into his eyes. He didn’t blink. He stared at me with eyes full of love and pain. And he said “You’re worth it.”

Out of pity, they offered him the bitter gall as an analgesic. He refused it. He shook his head, yet he never broke his gaze of piercing love with me. “You’re worth it.”

The lies I told, the sarcastic remarks I’ve said, the lustful thoughts I’ve allowed to play in my mind, they all pierced his flesh. They cut into his flesh, causing searing pain. He grimaced, but he never blinked. He looked at me dead on. He saw my thoughts, he heard the words, he felt the betrayal of the lies and he whispered, “You’re worth it.”

He breathed his last, crying out “It is finished!” The veil tore, and heaven and earth were silent. Immediately the crushing guilt of the pain I caused fell on me. Satan laughed. He thought he had won. My heart mourned. I had done this, and through it all, my beloved said I was worth it.

I approached the tomb, only to find it empty. The angel said “he has risen, just as he promised.” I felt this presence around me, this warm sensation, this love… I recognized it. I had felt this love before. When he gazed at me from his place on the cross, the jeering faded into the distance and all I felt was this love and acceptance. Now it was all around me. No matter where I looked. No matter who was looking at me. The love was present. The veil was torn. His presence was no longer contained within a place or a gaze for certain people to experience.

Suddenly he was before me. My beloved was alive! He held out his scarred hands. The lashes on his skin were still there. The evidence of my betrayal remained, but he was alive. He held out his hand and he looked at me in my eyes and he said “Beloved, you are so worth every lash, every scar, every piercing. You are worth it all.”

Guess what? Jesus said I’m worth it.

Ants

When I lived in the states…. if ants were in the kitchen, we would clean everything we could and try to find the source. Then we would set ant poison around the kitchen.

Here, we just pick out the bugs from our food.

6 months. Run hard.

Half a year. Wow. I have lived in Uganda for half a year. We have 5 weeks of ministry left. We have run a ministry marathon, pouring out our lives and hearts for the Ugandans for the last 6 months. We are nearing the point of a marathon race where the onlookers and bystanders line the road. It’s the part where you want to run. You don’t want to walk past the spectators. Run across the finish line. If I had at all been slacking in the last 6 months, now is the time to run. Keep the pace. Run hard. Finish in glory.

What does running hard look like?

It looks like learning how to cook from Ronald.

It looks like encouraging Peter that he can hear God, and he can lead out well.

it looks like connecting Gemina to a healthy church body.

It looks like being faithful to all of my people in the little things.

It looks like not forgetting to call someone who I haven’t talked to in a week.

It looks like sitting in looonnnngg meetings and discipling through fear of man.

It looks like praying daily for those I am discipling.

We are so close to the end. Our goal: to not stop until we begin the debrief. Personally, I want to pour every last drop that I have within me out into the men and women I have spent the last 6 months of my life with. I have lived for their growth. Now is the time to push hard so that their lives will be eternally changed by Christ alone. I don’t want to leave any stone unturned in Gulu.

Eating Local.

Our favorite local foods

We definitely have some favorite “western” places where we indulge in french fries, milkshakes, and pizza… but there is suddenly something comfortable and delicious about a good local meal. It’s simple, filling, and (usually) pretty tasty! 🙂

Africans make delicious meals out of almost anything. It’s often all simple foods, such as kalo (ground millet), posho, rice, beans, goat, beef, and tends to have a lot of grease! If you ever order chicken stew, it is a bowl of oily broth with a drumstick floatin’ in the middle. But it is delicious. Pour the whole thing over rice, pull the meat off the bone with your fingers, and you have deliciousness on your plate.

My personal favorites are all in the plate pictured above. Matoke, boiled and mashed green banana make a great compliment to tasty beans. Dodo (salted greens… not spinach… greens….) provides lots of nutrients, though isn’t my faaavvvooorrriiittteee. Cooked cabbage salad is up there in my favorites, and sweet potato totally tops the whole meal off. Not pictured above is chapati, an African flatbread that is great to eat with the meal, or with honey afterwards.

As much as I love ethiopian food, italian, greek, and in general my mama’s great cookin’, I’m really going to miss a simple and quick african meal. I wonder when the first cravings for sweet potato and beans will hit…

bon apetit!