Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A reading lamp!

Need a reading lamp?
The pitcher did...so we

collected some favorite books, found a cheap lamp at a thrift store,
gathered some clamps and a hacksaw

sawed off the extra parts on the lamp shaft,
Cleaning up the pokey thingys.
clamped the books down,
drilled through the books,

put the books over the post

from largest to smallest,

here's the pitcher's choice of books...

Ta Da! Well, needs a little adjustment and tightening of "stuff", but the captain has some ideas and

"let there be light!"

Saturday, May 22, 2010

In Jesus's Name...

Two weeks home and Uganda is still on my mind, on my heart and not just my rearview mirror.

This morning I woke up, well first at 1:30am because the two boys living next door, who were so absolutely darling little misters as toddlers, have become bigger in stature, older on the calender, but still apparently in the center of the "coolest" of all social clubs...a regular target for the TP crowd.

Oh my word, the memories of our own 3 getting the joy of cleaning up the yard, week after week, roll after soggy, dew saturated roll of the single ply "snow". I remember the Captain retelling a story of a nearly-teenage young man he was following at the grocery checkout years ago.

Checker (wry smile) : "That's a lot of toiler paper you've got there!"

Man-Child: "Yes, my dad has gonorrhea". (possibly revealing some sort of recent school curriculum still fresh on his mind)

Checker (stifled chuckle): "Do you mean diarrhea?"

Man-Child: "um, oh ya"

I am guessing no matter what Dad's condition was, he probably did without that night in favor of one of the ultimate pre-teen compliments...

having landscaping adorned in bathroom tissue!

You can tell the age of the recipient, by the hour the honor is bestowed...next door has progressed from 10pm to 1:30am, and God bless the mama who has stayed up late enough to drive this gang. Seriously she will be forever remembered as the "coolest" mom in the bunch...except I am thinking that in 2010, she might be called "da bomb" and if there is really something more current than that, I'm just sorry.

Regardless, my own memories of the delight I was able to grant to my own and their friends will always be a sweet spot of parenting in days gone by. A few of my peers looked down their proper noses, I know, and my credibility was lost when I got behind the wheel of a mini van at midnight, or helped set up the hose so we could catch a retaliator... but for the record, so far my own 3 are fine, having risen above the weak parenting they were challenged with.

And, just in case my dear neighbors ever stumble across this posting, my 1:30am walk down the hall last night, to investigate my own "Mighty Dog on alert" was accompanied by a smile that reached back 15 years. Enjoy... say yes and know the memories are worth it to both generations of you...and we have plenty of extra room in our trash cans for the overflow!

Not at all where this post was going...hold on, I'm making a huge right turn.

Witch Doctors and the village of Kakira. I woke up this morning, with that thought burning in my everything. What on earth can be done?

What do I want to do?..For lack of a better explanation, "make a deal with darkness", except what I know is that there is no "deal making" with a liar.

But if I could go back tomorrow (and I am compelled) I would take some fat American dollars and buy back every banded baby in the village, the innocent infants and toddlers, marked for sacrifice, and redeem them for their families in Jesus name. Then I would put enough money in the hands of the family that they would never, never, never have to consider such an answer to desperate poverty or I'd want to buy them cows or seed or medicine or whatever it is that would guarantee they never face such an option. Then I would shove another handful of shillings at the Witch Doctors, themselves, in exchange for relocating, pack them myself and hire some Ugandan mafia equivalent to "help them get settled somewhere else". Oh you think I'm kidding.

I could only be less than obsessed, if each day I am gone from there, didn't represent a day closer to "the day" for a tiny child. The only comfort, and I use that term with absolute repulsion, is that I know the Savior himself will take his own, given in such a manner, with such power and swiftness, and then..."No more suffering"...this baby "is going to see the King", and there is plenty of room for every prince and princess in His presence.

But...still, that is no measurable amount of comfort, nothing to rest in, knowing it continues. And I also know that there is nothing "on Earth" that can stop it. It is a spiritual battle, manifested in humanness. Since Satan can't get to God himself, he will continue to pursue and seduce for his own possession, God's children and not just the young ones. Makes total sense don't you think that if you want to really get to me, hurt my children.

It is gonna get edgy now...buckle up.

Is it possible God would ever allow a small American woman to go back to Kakira and be able to make a stand with THE Redeemer against the Devil himself? Make an "appointment" with Kakira's doctor of death for an impressive stand by THE ruler of all Heaven and Earth?

Am I equipped to stand before such darkness?
"Greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world" 1 John 4:4

If Aaron, a 5 year old, can speak the word that causes our enemy to fear and flee, "Jesus", couldn't others come along side in a bold, rebuking stand?

I admit, I went with open ears, compassion, love and a message and most of what I know even of the Christians in Kakira was from listening, not asking. Even with the curiousity of a news journalist, I felt lead toward sensitivity this trip, so I don't really know how it is being dealt with.

More time, more opportunity for one on one, more understanding might wipe the naivete right out of my mind and I'd know that a mighty stand and prayer warriors fight this battle more moments than I think about it. I pray it is so, but would like them to report in as each child is taken back, thank you so much.

Its just the black bands...interesting don't you think that a dark skinned child is marked with a black band? A subtle marking. Just a little black band, around the middle, claiming territory and victory, nothing flashy, just a subtle reminder to anyone close...this one is mine. I shudder at the power in the claim, not ultimate, but certainly some dominion in this age.

Our Pastor on Sunday drew such a picture of our world with that image. Oh we cannot see the band, but people are marked just the same. If only we could see it that way and rush to them, like I am drawn back to Kakira, to save and rescue and redeem, in Jesus name, why we don't bolt to tell the lost about the Savior, the Rescuer, the Redeemer. Like I cried over the babies, Pastor Bob cried for the rest. Christ grieves over them all.

God help us. Help us to know when and how to reach out and then give us the perspective and courage to make a stand for life from the clutches of death. The deal has been made. Christ's life for ours. No fat American anything would redeem like He already has. Its done, its just that free will lives on, desperation lives on.

And in Jesus's name and for his sake I have seen and cannot forget about the black bands...

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Uganda 2010 - Day 15

Having spent the night in Mbarara after the day long visit with Ruth, Fred, my driver and photographer of every move I make and I pulled out of the motel about 7:30am, just as the coffee and toast had arrived to my room. But Fred was on a mission, so I grabbed my things and looked longingly at the caffeine I knew I would need for the day…and walked out the door of the “Holiday Inn”. Saying goodbye to Ruth the day before, began the leaving behind of Uganda and a trip I will never forget.
I was exhausted and we still had 9 long hours of driving ahead. Fred knew that the rest of our team was on a game drive while I detoured to see Compassion’s prize and being so
“Fred” he wanted to make sure I got to do everything Uganda had to offer me. He kept pointing things out all day for me to take pictures of and had arranged for us to make a loop through a national park hoping to see something exotic-ish, animal-ish. The drive in was grueling and I am still feeling the muscle soreness of the last 3 days on Uganda’s roads. After about an hour, we paid for entrance and though I wanted to say…please can we just go to the hotel, he had zebra’s on his mind and lunch at the lake restaurant. We did see some of the striped horses and a very few small monkeys, the nation’s bird and a few other small creatures, I am too tired to describe. But Fred wanted to make my trip complete, so onward to the lake. It was peaceful.
As we left the national park it was about 4pm which meant we wouldn’t get to the hotel until after 9pm. I still had souveniers to purchase for my family so he stopped

so I could shop…well at the equator, you know, of the globe, the world…what? Everyone doesn’t shop at the equator?
Of course, my own personal paparazzi snapped more pictures, even as I walked for “short call”.
As usual, when a Muzungu is in the area, the children come running in fascination.
Whatever it is that brings them, I don’t really care, as long as they come. This particular group wanted to try on the bracelet that the Deeds had given me for Valentines Day. So we spent about 10 minutes obliging them. Then it hit…I just want to be home now. Mission accomplished, which makes the next 5+ hours challenging. Sitting forward, unable to rest my head on anything with all the bouncing and weaving, I looked forward to a shower, a bed, some water and sleep.
The room at the hotel where I was to meet the team Wednesday morning, was beautiful and crazy extravagant, considering where I had just come from. Can I just say, no body needs 3 separate light switches for the bathroom lighting alone.
For some reason as the exhaustion set in and my body was finally able to relax, sleep didn’t come, blogging did.
Finally, heavy eyes gave way to a good 6 hours of sleep, and though I had showered the night before, I decided to soak in the tub, as I tried to soak in the past 15 days. It was the day to say goodbye to Africa, to new friends, grateful for a new perspective and for the way I have been changed…until next time…
Lord you are worthy of worship,
Worthy of praise,
Worthy of honor
You’re worthy of thanks,
Keep them close to your heart. Nurture the seeds that were planted in your name and sow in them for a harvest the glorifies you, the God of my home and the God of theirs. Thank you for allowing your broken vessels to serve you here.

Goodbye, Uganda.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Uganda 2010- Monday Day 14- Meeting Ruth

Somewhere a monkey is having a good laugh. I lost my glasses while driving through a National Park on the way back to Entebbe, so picture me sitting in front of my laptop with the font set to 20 and the page zoom a 200%. I am squinting so hard, the Captain may think his wife has actually returned from an Asian country.

Monday May 3, 2010

Arriving in Mbarara Sunday evening, I kept my promise to my family and stayed in my room for the evening, ordering room service and listening to the Brooklyn Tabernacle choir on my computer. The next day was the day I was going to meet Ruth. I had no idea what the day ahead had in store, but apparently my body did, because I sleep really well. Fred, my driver, loaded our things into the van and directed me to go to the office to pay the bill. 82,500 shillings, about $40.00 dollars and that would be for my room service, the driver’s meal and two hotel rooms for the night.
We got in the van and headed to purchase a pair of shoes for Ruth. The only shoe store Fred new about, has shoes, but he said the quality was not good. So he called the Compassion director from Ruth’s project and she was on her way anyway to meet us and told us to wait. We sat in the parking lot of gas station and about an hour later she arrived. She took me to buy the shoes, and then we went next door to purchase supplies for the project itself; paper, crayons, highlighters a football (soccer), net ball (basketball) and a pump to keep them up and rolling. Then we headed out. But oh my word…about an hour on a paved road and then another 2 hours on dirt roads, full of potholes and when I say potholes, I mean everywhere and 6-18” deep, and deep ruts. The driver is constantly jerking the van back and forth from one side of the road to the other,the deep ruts and potholes, providing the bouncing. Let me just say that I have become very aware of every muscle that keeps us upright and bobble head dolls.... they are my people.
3 hours later we arrived.
This post could be a novel, describing everything I saw and felt, but I am going to try to hit the highlights for now.
The project center sat on the top of a hill overlooking a valley that was lush and green. Cows and goats meandered on the road and I got a kick out of the ones that reminded me of myself. Most would vocalize exactly how they felt about their inconvenience, but a few just turned to the bus, squared up and gestured stubbornness with their head and long horns. Alas, the van won each time, but “if looks could kill”…
The project itself was quiet, but Ruth and 4 staff members were there. It was all I could do to get out of the van. Ruth is beautiful and at about 5’10” tall, the stature of this young lady could have been regal, except that she was so humble, and quiet. She couldn’t stop smiling, but as women here are taught, she held her emotions in perfect check.
She is sweet, quiet but smiling ear to ear between trying to hide her enthusiasm. She does speak English, but when you hear that in Uganda, it can mean everything from understanding just a couple of nouns or names, to being able to translate. I was just blubbering, so we were on an even plane with our verbal communication. We hugged first, then pulled back to look at each other then hugged again, and over and over. It was just a moment that can’t be adequately described. For a woman with many words, I am so lacking in any that can describe my heart in those first moments. And if I can just say that Fred, my driver, was like the closest thing to paparazzi Uganda will find. It seemed he was as moved as any of us. More about Fred later.
As is the custom, I was taken in right away to a brick building, concrete floor, crude fixtures and furniture, but all the different foods that they could serve to a special visitor. I was first offered milk, which means hot milk, from the cow in one thermos and a second thermos filled with hot water. Then the question, how much water do you want with the milk, you tell us. Huh? Then I realized, that rather than drink the straight rich milk, they dilute it according to my liking. Then offered me a tea bag or some sort of chocolate granules, which ever I would prefer. Ruth had chocolate, I chose tea. Then cracker type cookies they call biscuits. Then even though there were 5 women at the table, the Pastor, who wore the dress of an American priest, began greeting me and questioning me about different things. Very quickly I realized that the quietness of the Ugandan female voice, is quite a contrast to my enthusiasm and flowery explainations. I mentioned that fact to him and he said, “Yes, why is it that American women are like that? I believe it is the freedom of the women in your country.” Ah, jeez, here we go, I believe that too, but the thought has never felt more obnoxious than this particular moment. I felt as if Ruth's father was sitting before me. He asked about American marriage and how it goes with young people that would like to marry. I explained that for the most part, we allow them to choose each other. That the most respectful of young men will talk to their family and then to the father of the bride to ask for permission. But they can choose and marry without permission. He asked about the bride price in America...ya...not so much. He told me that Uganda was moving towards marrying out of love and choosing, rather than the family's financial desperation. He talked about how many cows Ruth would be worth and said infront of her, that if she finishes her education, she would be worth more for her family, that her beauty was worth something, her strength and her education.
This compassion project runs this way. Children are located through churches, and when I say churches, I mean huts that are maybe the size of a bedroom or large hotel room, here and there along the road. This particular area seems really remote by my standards, except that I know there are places that have no roads at all. Once they are selected, they are registered, the parent is interviewed and the family situation is evaluated to make sure the child will be available enough to stay in school. The sponsorship money we send to Ruth, $38.00 a month, provides a boarding school for her where she attends for 3 months, then has a month off to go home and see her family. She does not live at home, and she does not get schooling at the project. All the children come on Saturday to the site, for games, singing, teaching etc... In other words, this is not a replacement for the parents, but their 2 on site staff members and 2 volunteers work tirelessly checking with the boarding schools, encouraging the child in their faith, and making sure the parent or family
has help and support when a situation arises. If there is a need for medical help, Compassion will help and has additional funds for these types of things. The director was telling me about young woman that has been flown to India for two heart surgeries and goes to Kampala once a month to the doctor for a check up and medication. She will continue to be taken care of until she is 22, assuming she stays qualified for the program. After that, there will be no support for her medical needs unless God connects her to the financial support for the $150.00 per month expense related to the 7 hour travel, doctor visit and medications.
Anyway, back to Ruth. Once the Pastor excused us from the meal and offered a blessing on our visit, he instructed the staff to give me a tour, with Ruth leading the way. I was told that I was the first visitor ever to this particular project and so they were as excited as I was. I can tell you that the project was little more than what looks like a deserted, very old farm and with the mud and cow dung buildings, broken brick church...they are so happy with it and so grateful. After the tour, it was time to get in the van and travel to Ruth's home. Two women staff members, Ruth, Fred the driver and me.
We drove and we drove and we drove, another hour at least, deeper into the hills. Averaging about 15 miles per hour because of the roads and it dawned on me that Ruth being home on school break, had travelled from her home to the project to be there by 8:30 in the morning. I asked how she got from home from the project to wait for me? She walked...yes she walked. It took her about 3 hours, which means she left her home alone at 5:30 in the morning, and walked for 3 hours to meet me. Who am I do be honored so much. That a 16 year old child would do such a thing for a woman who has no ability to understand the length and depth of such gratitude . I don't know when the last time was that you spent $38.00, but I stopped at a road side stand yesterday to buy souveneirs and spent twice that on trinkets.
Ok, back to Ruth... We arrived to her home, which because of the lush green landscape appeared to be tiny, but welcoming. Somehow I thought Ruth's family was her mother, and two girls and one boy. But on the drive they told me that Ruth's mother had 10 children, 5 boys and 5 girls. Ruth is #9 and her 13 year old sister Edith, the last. Once the van stopped, people started pouring out of the house to see this American woman, they would treat like a celebrity. You know I was looking for her 62 year old mother, Kellen, 'cause this mother's heart needed to lock eyes, arms and heart with the one that has done the hard part and made the sacrifices to raise a child we share such commitment to.
Oh my word, you can picture it I hope, because finally, finally I happened upon a Ugandan woman that cries with happiness. We grabbed hold of each other and neither one wanted to let go. Hug, cry, pull back and look into each other's faces, hug some more, cry some more. How will I ever find relief from the fullness of such affection.
We were escorted into the living room, that was the size of my master bathroom at home. The 10 or so women and girls, (Ruth's brother lives on the property, so there were cousins ranging from 5 -10) sat tightly on the couches chairs and I was presented with the honoring gesture of a meal, set on the "coffee table". Soda pop in bottles and water in bottles, biscuits, bananas and Ruth pulled out a photo album of pictures of herself at school, with friends, family members etc...I bet there were 100 or so, the first 5 or 6 were pictures I had sent of our family with the letters.
Then each of the younger girls got up to sing a song for me,

sweet quiet voices, not rehearsed, but an offering of what they had. I sang back to them
, "jesus loves the little children". I just know I was beaming because I am still stuck in that moment, (except that my eyes are more squinty because of the glasses thing.)
Then a tour of the home and cooking building, Kellen's room, the dining area and the water tank that collects water off the tin roof of the home, then a faucet sticking out of it. They were so excited to show me how it works.
I was shown a small hut with thatched roof where the mild is stored in special goard type containers, and I was caught off guard when I noticed a hen laying in the back, very still. "Is it alive?" I asked them. They got such a kick out of that, because duh! what on earth would they be doing with a stuffed life like chicken? "She is brooding, laying her egg". Chickens and me...we have so much in common...but that's another post.
Back to the house we went and it was time for gifts from me to them. I am going to tell you that when Fred brought in the "Home basket" which is actually a cardboard box, that had been taped up at the grocery store, Kellen was so happy and grateful and I was so humbled and embarrassed at the extravagance it represented. I just don't want to be a rich American woman in this place. I want to be like them, not above them. Ugh, how do I do that and still respond with what I can give?
When we first arrived, I gave Kellen her heart necklace that said "Mom" and one for Ruth that had 2 hearts connected. Kellen said she had never worn a necklace before. I gave Ruth a small photo album with current pictures of our family and a box of beads for jewelry making. I had a mug made that everyone, even the Compassion staff, was so fascinated with. It was Shutterfly and had a collage of pictures of our family and Ruth on it.
I opened my suitcase and just started pulling out clothing.

Everything I had brought on the trip to wear myself and several new blouses that had been sent from friends at home. The shoes that I had been wearing. It was like Christmas, each item I pulled out, they looked at and passed to the one who wanted it or was the best fit. Four brothers that stood on the porch outside, each got a baseball

tshirt and they all put on the clothing right away over whatever they had on. Each item that Kellen showed interest in, was offered to her first. Its too much. Too much, that my cast offs are treasures...that something I purchased at the Thrift store to wear here, brings such celebration. Then I felt let to give Kellen a silver bracelet I was wearing, which caused her to cry again. I told her, the shiney silver was far more beautiful on her skin than mine.
Then I don't know what got into me, but before I left home, I purchased a band from Kohl's to wear as a wedding band so that I could leave my own ring at home.
I took it off, looked into Ruth's eyes, told her that I would pray always for a man that would love Jesus and her, honor her, respect her, care for her, provide for her. I told her to always protect her body, keeping it pure until a man that was worthy of her, would marry her. That she was valuable to God, to her mother and to me. I took the ring off my left hand and had her put it on her right hand until the day when a wonderful man replaced it. Ya, I know, God is such an orchestrator and I was so, so, so blessed.
Who am I, that my God would love me that much.
Fred made us take tons of pictures and I was so grateful for the digital age and the monster memory card my brother gave me with the camera. Fred wore out the batteries on the smaller camera back at the project. Oh Fred, you were such a blessing to me.
Then Kellen asked me to pray over their family. I am not worthy to be the one. But God is, and as broken as my past has been, He is the God of redemption and if he can use a small american woman to bless a family and speak to God on their behalf...I needed to surrender to be his representative and an intercessor for them. Yes I am bawling right now, retelling it. I just don't deserve such joy, immeasurable, overflowing, amazing joy.
I prayed for their protection, for the protection of the girls, for health and strength for the grown boys (who are responsible to this family since the death of Ruth's father in 1999.) That God would make himself known to them every single day and that as we seperated in body, that he would bind our hearts together across the globe. The God of America is the God of Uganda...
Fred directed more pictures and I will be embarrassed that he took so many of them receiving gifts, because it is humbling to know that what I gave was no sacrifice at all.
There came a time to leave and yes I waited as long as I could. Fred said we could stay as long as we wanted to. Ya, well maybe not really as long as I wanted to, but I am so grateful for a family back home to pull my heart back home.
I'm going to post this without pictures for now, then add the photos later, so check back, but I am down to last few hours here and my last $2.50. I have no jewelry left, no clothes except what I will be wearing on the plane and they aren't even clean. So if you could pray for those sitting next to me on the 48 hour journey home, they would be most grateful I am sure.
We are just about done with our mission in Uganda. You have done a good work here servants, by your giving to send us, by your praying to protect and strength us, by loving our Savior enough to keep walking on.
Let's stay in this thing until we our lay down heads for the last time. He is so worth it

Uganda 2010 day 13

Sunday morning at 8:15am my driver arrived at the hotel in Jinja to pick me up. We will be travelling across Southern Uganda together about 9 hours total. Me, a man that no one knows, a third world country, and a van that the driver must turn the key an average of 20 times, resulting in a click and nothing else before it actually starts. Yep…I’m afraid I may have just moved up the prayer request list a couple of notches.
Scott Harrell told me this morning they wanted to pray with us before we left and that he was going to talk to this driver the way a father would to a man coming to date his daughter the first time.
Fred arrived and I felt instantly at ease. Everyone gathered around us to pray and we were sent off.
Poor Fred…an American woman with a lot of words, a curiosity that won’t stop and 9 hours in the same car. I noticed after about 45 minutes, he asked if I wanted to hear Ugandan Christian music. I think that was code for, "how bout we listen and stop talking." and when I say "we" I think he might have been thinking about me.

That lasted for about an hour, until I figured out where the volume button was and how to turn it down so he could hear me ask another question he has probably answered a thousand times. When his IPOD came out, I took the hint. Well, until I realized I could shout at him and he would take one of the ear pieces out. We stopped for lunch and shared some stories about our lives and how we came to know Christ.

In the van was one thing, facing forward…face to face over a table with this very gentle man…just made me miss mine. The last 3 hours turned into 4 when I asked if we could maybe stop to pass out some dresses and shirts when we saw a child alone on the road or a house within sight where children were. “Oh yes, whatever you want, you just tell me to stop and I’ll stop.” AWESOME! I’m just going to post the pictures he took because, honestly there were few words spoken because of language and the pictures really do tell it better than I could.

They were way back at their house when we pulled up

and I was prepared to walk to them, but by the time we put a hair tie and plastic bag where the gas cap was before the last 100 potholes, they had walked up to the road to us.

I LOVE this one,

because that baby girl was having just a couple of thoughts about me don’t you think? I was able to give the mom a skirt and t shirt from what I brought and by the time we got back in the van, she had both items on over her own clothes.

At the next stop, we found 3 women and two young girls. Oh my word what fun it was. AD you are blessing some darlin’s in Uganda!

We arrived in Mbarara about 5pm. I cracked up at myself when we pulled up to the Holiday Inn. I thought the whole time that it was so funny to travel so far away, only to stay at an American Hotel, but I figured, the Compassion team just wanted to make us feel comfortable and safe. Duh…Holiday means vacation and Inn just means hotel…
Here is the reality of where we are. But you know me, the greater adventure, the better.
And honestly after the bricks from Saturday...even without a toilet seat, I'm good!

We checked in and for the first time in a very long while, I feel like I just want to stay safely in my room. Its not a threatening place at all, I just want to be ready for tomorrow. Fred asked if I was up to going to the store for the things I wanted to bring to Ruth’s family tomorrow. Well, YES I was. The grocery store was about the size of a very small 7-11. He has done this so many times with other visitors, that I told him to get whatever he thought was a good idea. He chose sugar, flour, clothes rice, washing bars, body washing bars, shampoo, lotion, tea, toothpaste boxes for each member of the family with the toothbrushes inside. I chose cookies, candy, had the young lady at the counter select a perfume and whispered in her ear that I wanted to take Ruth those “panties”. She slipped around the counter and bagged them separately. We added gum and juice and anything else Fred even stopped to gaze at. He would look and I would say “yes, they need that”.

Oh my word I am getting so excited. I have no idea what to expect. Fred has told me that the children don’t go to the project site during the week because they go to school. So as long as I get to stretch my arms and heart around this 16 year old girl…I will be in heaven. There are 250 children helped by this particular project site and Fred pointed out about 3 of them along just the one route we took today. I told him that American women cry with emotion and joy. Well lets get real, I told him just about everything I know, while he was trapped in the van for 9 hours driving across a country that probably used to seem much smaller than today. Anyway, he said most American women cry and the children understand. Nevertheless, please pray that I can hold myself together because seriously, I could cry a river just thinking about locking eyes.
And…my video camera that just stopped working yesterday?…started right up today when I changed the tape out! I asked Fred if he knew how to video tape and take pictures and he said “Of course, this is part of what I do for you! You visit and I take the pictures!” It’s all too much for this heart of mine and I am not even there yet.
The internet is down, so I realize that by the time I get this up and going, I may be in the air coming home. But until I have downloaded the emotions of today…I can’t possibly have room for tomorrow without bursting.
Can I just say thanks to my girlfriends who sent along the Starbucks instant coffee? Tonight for the first time, tucked into my hotel room, I ordered a pot of hot water and am livin’ large for a few moments. I haven’t seen one American chain like Starbucks or McDonalds, which is kind of refreshing. But that coffee gave me just a little bit of home. I miss you so much and I keep picturing us all here together. I believe you would really love Fred and he would run for the hills with even the thought of a whole van full of us. But that is not a fact limited to Ugandan men…our "appeal" is global that way!

I think today was take your goat to work day.

Seriously…Vons and Ralphs could learn a few things about their produce presentation.

Until tomorrow…

Uganda 2010- Day 12

The girls loved trying on my glasses..."I look smart" (smart meaning fashionable, not intelligent) well, except in my case!

Friday evening we learned that the men and women of Kakiira had intended to have us one last time, all together, the men and the women, for what we would call a wrap up. We had not expected to have any responsibilities on Saturday and would just be resting up and preparing for Sunday, when the men had been asked to go to some of the different churches that had sent leaders to the conference.
Instead we were up early and off to the village one last time for more than we ever expected. They greeted us and then escorted us to the left side of the stage where we sat, facing the large crowd, throughout the meeting. The men sat in the first rows, the women in the back rows. It seems normal even to us at this point. Each of us was asked to get up and summarize our teaching and thoughts of the week, to the more than 500+ crowd, "briefly".Yes I was, Amen and Hallelujah, Africa has taught me something. Don't start celebrating just yet, I believe it will be fleeting. But enjoy the thought of it, even if you don’t get to experience it.
I have to admit, I am thinking with a Ugandan accent. My family is not the least bit surprised, as I have been caught doing that in the past, on the phone with relatives from “don’t ja know” kind of states and acquaintances with Asian accents etc…I have yet to lapse into Spanish here in order to find a way of communicating, except that I did say “Si” to two young boys on the street early in my trip. Duh!
Anyway, after we each summarized, the five men in our group answered questions that had been submitted throughout the week by the men at their conference. Many of the questions had to do with areas in scripture that contradicted their culture. Let me tell you I so admired the way our pastors spoke the truth to these men, straight from God’s word, even when you know it was going to challenge their way of life. Taking to heart and living out God’s direction causes US discomfort, but when the men here are expected to treat their wives a certain way, manage their homes a certain way and what represents their manhood and strength to those around them, must be laid down in order to honor God…that is huge. Like most places, when God changes the men, a woman is changed, a family is changed, a church is changed, a community is changed and an entire country can be changed…all for the Glory of the one who loves us so, and came to create some CHANGE.
A few of the questions were…”What does the bible say about having two wives?” “If I have children with a woman before I am born again, then marry another, what are my responsibilities to the woman and children?” “I have heard that American Christians drink alcohol, how is that ok with the scriptures?”
“How are you saying I should care for my children, when it is the woman’s place?” “Should women be teaching in the church?” “Should I give up my job in order to serve in my church?” …Ya! I know. How would you like to be the person that explains to a man that has been beating his wife, he should actually be loving her and serving her and helping to train and love the children?”
But here’s the deal. These men have been called by God to lead and teach in their home churches or they want to begin a new church and some of what the bible tells them is so opposite of what they know culturally that they need to be fully equipped to be able to support and prove with scripture, every revolutionary idea and practice that will be preached. And it will be preached, no doubt. Every one of them sat with full attention and interest, taking notes like they were going to go out and report to everyone exactly what they need to do.
They don’t want to avoid the hard stuff, they are spirit led to begin teaching the whole truth without reservation or compromise.
The question and answer time went on smoothly and amazingly for 2 hours, and like everything else, it flew by. I couldn’t help but be so grateful for the investment of experience and knowledge that had been poured into these men all week, knowing that the women we had come to love and shared hearts with, may just be heading for something in their homes they haven’t even known to dream of.
A woman, who is loved, loves and gives freely, abundantly, sacrificially and with joy. One that has been taken from, burdened, and oppressed, serves out of fear, feeling everyday like rather than giving, something is being taken from her until she can continue only because, to quit, would be a disgrace to herself, her children and she would be so severely disciplined, she has little choice.

They were so excited to have an American woman to pray for. Cristin and Shannon did a great job of having all 200+ women at the conference submit their own prayer requests and took their picture so that we will have bookmarks of them, their faces and requests for the next year. Their requests of God kind of put us to shame. They have a huge idea of God’s power and problems that require that kind of God to heal. I just have a feeling we will be overwhelmed by what we see God do on both sides of the planet.
I was slipped two sweet gifts yesterday. Wrapped in special paper…they mean so much. If you could only know Janet, you would understand. I doubt I will ever be able to explain how she changed me and the thought of her grace and faith and humility, will continue to do so.
I felt so moved by God when I saw Olivia’s prayer request in her own writing…”please pray for me, I am an orphan. Please pray that God will provide my school fees”. I slipped a note to Janet at the end of the day on Friday, about 6pm, she was one that met with us until about 10pm Friday evening and somehow by Saturday morning she had gone to Olivia’s house, met with her grandmother and told me she was going to follow up with the headmaster of Olivia’s school at the beginning of the term and would somehow through Pastor Scott, get a message to me about it. She did this sometime between 10:30pm and 9am.
I was able to print out on regular paper at the hotel a couple of the pictures of Olivia, fold them up and put them into a black plastic bag with a blouse. Since she wore the same clothes every single day this week, I can only imagine it filled a need and hopefully let her know that she is so very special to me. Janet said she would give them to her at a time when the other children wouldn’t realize. See what I mean…Janet.
Back at the hotel, I remembered John telling us that Moses, one of the men attending the conference takes of 2 young sisters and 6 boys that live next door. I was so excited to be able to give him the baseball shirts and two dresses and he was so appreciative. Thanks AD and Sportime. Our team had dinner together and shared a brief statement about the week; I went back to my room, sorted through both suitcases in preparation to leave the team Sunday morning when my driver from Compassion is supposed to pick me up. I can’t wait. The only thing that helps me get through leaving Jinja, Kakiira and the team is getting to go visit my Ruth. We’ll enjoy that together as best I can describe it. Until then…
We did have a new bathroom experience today. The men’s stall is a hole in the concrete, the women have the deluxe addition of two bricks to sit on and I do think the pink walls was a thoughtful choice. Using the restroom is really more accurately described as yoga in the dark, at least for the female side of humanity. I don’t really want to talk about why there is a small broom in the corner. But Adventure?…I’m all about it!