Monday, October 13, 2014

Mirror, mirror on the wall...

I cannot even begin to explain what is happening in my head sometimes EVERY MINUTE of every waking hour.  That is not at all to say, that my sleeping thoughts are fewer or make more sense .  But that's another conversation for another time and I chuckle and shake my head in the wondering of my wandering mind.

I cannot describe it as rabbit trails, because for heaven's sake there is no rabbit on this planet that would run that hard for that long... every once in a while I throw out a random thought to the Captain just to relieve the pressure a little.  Most of the time he is good enough at covering the "blankness" in his stare and contributes the appropriate, yet non-committal  "huh" so that I don't feel the need to explain where it came from. 

But every once in a while he is so caught off guard that his expression gives him away before he has a chance to cover.  I probably definitely have an unhealthy desire to be understood so I dive head first into a promising explanation that connects the mental dots that got me to that point. 

I am overly entertained to hear it spoken aloud believing that the audio adds veracity and clarity.  His eyebrows usually say otherwise and I am left with the reaffirmation that my cranial activity needs to be saddled up and reined into submission like a wild horse...instead it remains more akin to the bull in the ring at the rodeo or a hamster in his wheel. 

None of this has a thing to do with anything except to reinforce the title of the blog..."Just a thought" and can serve as a warning that if it was a paper book, an entire forest could be consumed attempting to record the firings beneath my hair follicles.

Today my obsessive nonsensical thought...the cost of a mirror...

Cross cultural experiences add such richness to living.  Every once in a while the contrast in a particular area makes me take pause and circles over and over again in my head.  Living in a country rich in all manner of material things exaggerates the absence of possessions in poverty stricken third world environments.  As the years and trips roll around in my memory, every once in a while God shows me something true about myself.  Proves again that more is not necessarily better and there is a real freedom in simplicity.

Today For weeks, I have been swirling over the first mirror brought into the children's home in Uganda.  It was not intentional really, but attached to a wardrobe purchased for the closet-less room of our house mom Janet.  Its the only one and generally behind a closed bedroom door.  Children of all ages wake, bathe, dress for school and leave for the day with no reflection of their outward appearance.  Our female staff go through the same routine without the concern or ability to see what everyone else will as they go about their day.   

The number of mirrors in our home and the number of times we catch a glimpse of ourselves during a single day whether we intentionally seek it or not is mind boggling.  I am the first person I see in the morning and often the last real person at night.  Getting into the shower, brushing my teeth, and all manner of readying for a day happens within the capture of a rectangle reflection or two.  Closet doors, leave nothing to imagine in my clothed head to toe, and then 10 steps down the hall and another captures my profile.  Mirrors are framed like artwork and flipped down from the visor each one sending messages that boldly state   "acceptable today or not".  

Message recorded and then worn like an identity when the image we wear encounters the outside.  To deny it affects my mood or attitude or my strategic "hide and seek" on some days would be a lie.   To stand before a closet full and contemplate a trip to the mall is a direct result of the reflection on the other side of the door.  The cost of and time spend with a blow dryer or make up bag is an effort to hear the inaudible "well done" or "do over" or an all too often "waste of time" caption under the image. 

My sudden awareness of mirrors is by no means an exercise in self loathing but instead a remarkable acuteness of the time and expense and effects of seeing ourselves from the outside.  I heard Beth Moore refer to FACEBOOK as Fakebook and I felt immediately convicted not that I am contributing anything false, but that we take how many photos? to get  the most flattering and cringe when someone else tags or posts our image and we HATE it not because it isn't us, but because it really is and for heaven's sake real life isn't all that flattering.

Its easy for me to imagine a world without mirrors, where our sense of presentable is maybe more about the heart and the way we look toward others instead of worrying about how we look to them.  Several weeks each year there is some freedom I see and sense and admire.  

Less isn't always better..".the google" says mirrors were invented in the first century so clearly our physical image has always had some importance... God created us in his image so perhaps that is what we are really looking for when we gaze at our reflections...some sign that there is beauty stamped in us regardless of whether we can see it in the rectangle on the wall.

Genesis 1:27 "God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them"


Wednesday, July 09, 2014

"For our HOPE is in YOU alone"

Uncomfortable; wrestling...

This post has been started in my head a hundred times, usually in the middle of the night when the warm sheets and cool summer night air discourage me from getting up and actually writing anything down. 

The delay has been both the comfort of my pillow AND how to address the subject matter in a way that doesn't make us all curl up in a ball at the depths of evil in our world.  

Our newsletter is intended to keep our wonderfully committed and supportive sponsors, donors and encouragers in the know and updated on the recent past, present and future hopes of daily life at Chayah.   Facebook posts are brief and current;  prayer requests or antics of a young family to be celebrated.

SOME    NEWS    JUST    DOESN'T    FIT     comfortably    ANYWHERE

Within the reality of this very new ministry, born out of desperate circumstances, is a truth that the  rescue and protection of children was created in the heart of God.  Doing something can be just plain reactionary as we experienced in 2012.  The questions for us were both "what can we possibly do?" and "how can we even imagine not doing...something?"

We've moved past the thrilling, frightening, humbling  months of setting things up stateside.  January 2013 contains memories of putting together a protective, stable home filled with every necessity, stocked with food.  We got to welcome children, arriving with a variety of physical illnesses, emotional fears and their own wonder about the future.  We have gotten to experience the sweetness of watching their lives even out through security, love, and a father in God himself.  Perhaps we should be content, grateful and settle in to what should feel like success.

AND      YET      WE      WRESTLE

because there is this thing called "all the rest" and we hear stories that instantly tear our thoughts from contentment to tears and the relief of doing something is quickly swamped by a grieving...and we wrestle... and the news is ugly and we are uncomfortable again because...

a young girl's life was taken at the direction of a witch doctor and her mutilated body was left just yards from the protective walls of Chayah.  It's not the life itself he demanded, but enough of her that she could not survive it.  Satan has wreaked havoc, stolen, destroyed and made promises he will never keep, to a desperate someone willing to do the unthinkable...  and our kids are shaken and fearful...

and we wrestle and its uncomfortable

because sisters 11 and 13 are pregnant and its common... and at that age they should be playing jump rope not skipping over their childhoods.  The 11 year-old is blind and in some ways if rape were the cause it would maybe be easier to stomach, as wretched as that would be.  But instead they sold themselves for 40 cents because its all they have to sell and because their house is full of siblings already and their mother is now raising her grandchildren too and there... is... nothing.  And because who can plan for a tomorrow when today is so desperate.  Two more tiny lives will enter a home bulging against cow-dung walls... and a girl, not old enough to babysit in our families, will, in just a few months, suffer through and deliver a baby onto the red dirt floor of their home unless her own barely-adolescent frame refuses to cooperate with this taxing burden of motherhood called birth.  And then what...

and we wrestle and it's uncomfortable

because girls disappear regularly headed off with who-knows-who, to a promise of a job as a house servant in the big capitol city of Kampala.  Except that there are thousands of street children there who would take the paying job if there really was one.  And when a couple of years later a 15 year old returns, pregnant and used up...well heads hang at the reality of broken promises and shame replaces ignorance.  Motherhood will again drown childhood unless of course disease steals them both.   
and we wrestle...and it's painful...

and this kind of news reaches all the way across our shared God-created-earth and it doesn't sit or fit well anywhere.  And we are earnestly "ministry minded" and "God-changed" and have asked Him to" break our hearts with what breaks His" and so He does...
and we wrestle...and it's difficult to bear the knowing

But it is not without      H     O     P     E

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Uganda 2012...the last thousand words

Compassion boys...Julius, Hassan, Emma, Timothy

Grateful mama

Teaching the Human Knot to Compassion boys

Meeting Joseline & Rogers

Meeting Julius's brother

Boys come to VBS dressing in their best

Sweet baby

Big hearted Captain

VBS - what a joy

Dot...just like her dad

VBS Singing

VBS Crafts

Everybody loves a camera

amazing smiles
many beautiful
Hundreds, but really a group of one's

a beautiful one

another one

beautiful ONE


The most difficult goodbye.....Abbo Olivia

Monday, August 13, 2012

Uganda 2012...a needle in a haystack!

Its our final day in Uganda and we headed out with one single purpose, to find a 9 year old boy named Daniel.  One of our team members, Nicole, is his sponsor and she was so praying that she would get to meet him.  The ministry headquarters is very near us, but could not provide help in finding him, so all she had was a prayer and in faith bought rice and beans and we all pulled together a backpack with a toy, stickers, dresses and shirts for the family.  We gathered around the van this morning asking God to guide us to him.  Like a needle in a haystack, really. She had his sponsor card showing his neighborhood name, but seriously there is no rhyme or reason to these American urbanites, so we depended on Annette who had offered to escort us and help in our journey, as Chris our van driver took us to the general area.  We were told "good luck finding him".  Luck?  We don't need luck, we asked God to show us and we were not to be discouraged.  At one point we stopped  to show the picture she had of the boy to a teenager standing on the side of the road.  "Do you know him?"  "YES!"  "Do you know where he lives?"  "Yes!" WHAT????  Will you show us "Yes!"  He was so excited to help, he jumped in our van and showed us the way.  We drove as far as we could and walked the rest of the way to a brick and mud home tucked a bit away.
We got there and she asked for Daniel.  He came out, but was thoroughly confused by 8 white people showing up at his remote home.  Through Annette, he was told that she was his sponsor for school.  He was hesitant and unsure until she showed him the card with his picture.  Finally he understood and it was a party from there on.

 His mother was retrieved from her work in the "garden" and we were all invited into her home. 7 of her 9 children were there along with all of us and each child was so excited to receive something from the backpack. The girls got pillow case dresses, the boys received shirts.

 The notes were read to them and each pocket held a piece of candy.  There was such joy, such celebration and to think that more than anything she could give, to come so far to find him and bless him in the name of Jesus, was AMAZING!   As only God can do, we were so so thankful that the Lord led us right to him.  Do you know how many children were in that small area alone?   Did you see the pictures from VBS?  Did you read that nearly 800 children gathered near in that one small village?  It was a miracle, that God would show us such favor is just humbling and so so wonderful.  Nicole will never forget this day, Daniel will never forget this visit and we will never be able to forget how much the creator loves us!

We left the area, drove back to Jinja and made a purchase for the village of Kakira.  Then sat a while, shopped a small bit, enjoyed a Coke Zero and a chocolate bar and then decided to end the day with a hoot and a hollar!  Sending Chris, our driver, back to the hotel with our purses and supplies, we hopped on the back of a Boda Boda, 2 of us on each one, scrambled for the $1.00 each that it cost and rode off into the sunset!  What a thrill! FYI...every time we do something a little risky, they blame me.  Don't you believe it for a minute...those girls were all about the Boda Boda! Crocodiles and the camping in the wild?  Maybe not so much!


Uganda, we leave you at 9am tomorrow morning, just 16 hours from now.  You have been gracious to us, your people so welcoming and appreciative.  We pray the God who sees us all and brought us to serve with you here will keep you until we meet again.  If it is in eternity, we'll be the ones standing in on your worship singing "Higher Higher Higher"  

Revelation 7: "After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands.And they were shouting with a great roar,
“Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne
    and from the Lamb!”
 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living beings. And they fell before the throne with their faces to the ground and worshiped God.  They sang!
“Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom
    and thanksgiving and honor
and power and strength belong to our God"
    forever and ever! Amen.”

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Uganda 2012 Day 12...Goodbyes

Today is Sunday and we headed into Kakira for the last time. Our arms bursting with all of the extra clothing, VBS supplies, shoes and a small gift for each of the 21 men and ladies that helped us with VBS this week.  I stayed up late and then again this morning writing notes to the most special to my heart.  Wrapping things in brown paper and black plastic bags so that others could not tell what was being carried.  I have learned since being here that Janet who has taken in 3 additional children, was the target of some jealousy from inside and outside the church.  If anyone discovers that someone is receiving money from the US, they are suspect and others become very jealous.  I went to Janet's home, it is the bare minimum just like everyone else, but when Olivia and Jesca came to live there and went to school, people knew that money was coming from somewhere.  When Janet goes to the village market on Sunday her prices are higher.  She told me that there just came a time when she had to realize that she must live to please God, and not be concerned with the talk or opinions of man.  This grieves me.  After seeing where they live, 5 people sleeping in a 8 X 8 room, happily, I felt like I wasn't helping enough.  But sending a bit more seems like it would cause a problem for her as well.  I'll be praying for wisdom in this.  
Dann and the Pastor's son Robert led one song during worship this morning.  
There was other music and dancing and the children's choir and a great message. At the end, a cake was brought up made by the Kakira ladies.  They started this business a couple of years ago to earn money for their woman's ministry.  Dann and I were asked to come up and cut the cake, together, like cutting a wedding cake.  We found out later that when a visitor cuts a cake like that, it means you must return to the village...ok then!  
Cutting the cake began the most difficult part of this trip so far.  The beginning of the goodbyes.  Janet. Jesca and Loid, OLIVIA.  I had prepared myself as best I could.  But opening your heart wide just does a thing that cannot be made easier.  I love her so.  And it is clear that she has not held back a thing either.  The longing for 2 years, was not undone in a weeks time.  I believe it is just something I will have to live with, a part of my heart broken and left in Uganda.  God is so good to create in us love that is so deep, so real.  I wouldn't change a thing.  Well water proof mascara would have been a good change this morning.  Hearts have been touched on this trip and not just mine.  Its amazing to take something so unexplainable and watch someone else experience it.  No words are quite right, its just a heart thing.  At least now Dann and I can give each other a knowing look when her name is spoken or we go through the pictures.  
The Pastor of their church had arranged a lunch for us in the village with a few of the leaders of their church.  Never before has a team come to minister to the children of the village and been able to pull it off.  He just kept saying, 700 children under the same roof heard the gospel and with God's nurturing the seeds that have been planted, the impact in Kakira will be huge!  Ah yes, just like our God.  

Tomorrow we are heading out on an adventure of our own making.  There is a boy, named Daniel, who is sponsored by one of our team members.  She has little information about him except his school name, which narrows down his village and a picture of him.  We are taking a woman we have met with us and will scour the area talking to other people, other children, passing out candy and dresses and shirts and doing everything we can to locate him.  She will surprise him with gifts of things we have brought along and some rice and beans for his family.  Please pray we find this little guy named Daniel.  It will be such a treat for everyone and such a surprise for his family.   Can you imagine, they have no idea she is even in the country and she will show up at their home with gifts!  I know, don't you wish you had come just to witness it!  Front row seat we have, yes maam.  Until tomorrow.