Friday, April 30, 2010

Uganda 2010- Day 10

It rained so much Thursday evening, our bus slid off the road and into a small but very muddy ditch...Everyone had to get out and help, except they wouldn't allow the american women off to help or take a chance on getting hurt...geeze...totally not my style...submission, not my strong point.

Friday began with such excitement. Our final day of teaching and being just women together. Saturday is our last time in Jinja, but the men will join us for a time together to wrap up the week and I think probably leave these precious believers with a challenge to keep growing and to now go out and share what they have learned. Leaving them in the hands of their BIG God will make it easier but I am sure very emotional at least for the American women.

As I prepared for this trip, I was responsible for 5 lessons but only felt like God gave me 4. Unlike my usual type A-ish personality, I did not force the last and what a blessing that has turned out to be.

Unknown to us, this conference was scheduled on a week when the children did not have school. There were so many in the back the first day with no one to entertain them, that Cristin and Shannon have taken them out for the morning session Tues-Thurs and taught them Jesus loves me and another, that slips my mind.

Just before that Cristin Harrell got up to share with them that children are a gift from the Lord, a blessing and a joy. She shared honestly that some times she wants to pull their hair out with them, but that she recognizes her God given responsibility to love them as Christ would, and teach them. So just before lunch about 40 children paraded in, stood on the dirt floor before their mothers and grandmothers etc and sang to them. What a great moment it was. I am praying that mothers will really take the message she gave to heart. Caning is the way they are disciplined and it is harsh by our standards. The older women in the church poke and push and swat at the children to quiet them or send them away. The children don't seem upset by it, but in our small group discussion I did get the question "if we don't want to discipline the way our mothers and grandmothers did, what can we do?" This is such an example of these women and their open hearts to the teaching, the biblical standards and taking the lessons very literally.

Each day we have taken more and more people on the bus with us to and from the village. So everyday I have an opportunity to meet someone new and hear their story. Thursday’s ride home, I got to sit and meet Loid, a girl who is 13. She has a mother and father who are both Christians and 3 younger brothers. I wish I could tell you all the details, but briefly she has a brother Aaron who is 5. Aaron pretends to be a preacher and then says after he preaches, “Sister, it is now praise and worship” One night a witch doctor came into their home and began choking the mother. Aaron heard it came into the room and said “Witch doctor, I’m going to get my bible, I am going to tell my Jesus, You go!” and the Witch doctor left. A few days later, the Witch doctor came and did the same thing to his father. Again Aaron heard and came in the room and told him “Witch doctor, you go again! I’m going to get my bible, I am going to tell my Jesus, You Go!” and again this 5 year old sent the Witch doctor away. Now when the witch doctor sees Aaron in the village, he runs away. Amen and Hallelujah! How awesome is that. And I’m not asking a question here…That is an amazing display of God’s anointing.

And then there is Olivia. A 13 year old girl, who is an orphan. Here an orphan means that both parents are dead. Her's died 3 and 4 years ago. She lives with her grandmother and her younger brother. She caught my eye early in the week and has stayed within my view all week. In the same clothes each day, so she is easy to spot. She sat through each session taking notes and as I scan the room when others are speaking, I have caught her time after time staring at me. The first few days she would drop her head shyly, but after a few smiles and secret winks, she now beams. Yesterday, there was a time when several women had asked if they could come up and sing, not to us, but they just want to praise Jesus publically. Olivia came up and began singing in English "Soon, yes very soon, we are going to see the king" Every verse.."No more crying then, we are going to see the king..." I jumped up like a proud mother, took my video camera and sat on the floor in front like against a post, as she sang with such power andconviction, yet so humbly and I was a mess. "No more crying there..." Jesus help my breaking heart. It is so difficult to give anything to anyone, because they are all in need and such jealousy can occur. But oh my heart. I had a small spiral note pad I brought for note taking and wrote her a note in the back on the inside cardboard cover. Slipped it to her all the while guaging her size with my suitcase...if only.

My next few days will be a journey to visit Ruth, my Compassion's the mapI'm travelling from the Eastern most Advil to the Southern most Advil on Sunday, Monday morning to the pain reliever just north of that, thm to the two toned capsule on Tuesday...look you gotta go with what you've got when your in Uganda, (or CSULA)...gotta run...leaving for our last morning in the you all so. Pray for Olivia...she is a precious amazing young girl.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Uganda 2010 Day 9

By Thursday, things are really into a routine. I have to admit the internet has a hold on us that makes me laugh. We have all but given up the wireless signal we enjoyed in our rooms the first few days and pace ourselves to a routine that means we stand dressed and waiting for the internet office downstairs to open at 8am, slip in for a stretched 30 minutes of face to screen time with our electronic friend. Then pull ourselves or each other away for our 8:30 meeting, conveniently in the dining room, so we don’t waste an extra minute. Then when the meeting is over, we can race back to the internet room for a few minutes before getting on the bus at 9:30am. In our defense, because reading this makes me feel like we need some, it takes about 10 minutes for the AOL sign in screen to appear and another 5 minutes to get to the mail. FACEBOOK seems to be a little quicker, and I have seen the attendants in the room logged on to it every time I’m in there. When we return at the end of the day, some dash from the bus, at 6:30 or so, trying to catch loved ones to Skype before your work day begins, or checking in for a message from home. With 8 mamas in the group, I guess we feel like we need to make sure someone is holding down the fort at home.
Everyone was able to make the trip to Kakiira yesterday. I have to admit, that if you all would stand down my hallway in the morning to smile and greet me like the women and children of Kakiira do when we arrive, I do believe it could help with some might powerful work at home also.
I was first up yesterday, teaching on “the woman caught in adultery”, John 8. We have spent extra time each day talking about the setting and the characters in the passages. The adulterous woman, caught “in the act” was dragged into the temple to stand before a huge crowd and accused. The purpose was to trap Jesus, but we looked at the situation from the woman’s point of view. Humiliated, vulnerable, exposed, in her worst moment standing before the public and her sin was announced. She knew what the law said and that her death by stoning was eminent, people watching may have already been holding the rocks in anticipation, their eyes fixed on her shame…and Jesus, without speaking, allowed the crowd’s own conviction, to take them away. Then he offered her grace and truth…perfectly balanced.
Instead of the death she deserved, he gave her new life.
I challenged them to identify both with the adulterous woman and then with one standing in the crowd, stone raised, yelling, accusing. Women in Kakiira and women in America share the same tendencies…we can be so harsh on our sisters rather than coming along side them to enable them the grace and love to change. We’d much rather raise our brows, whisper, withhold relationship, than support them through becoming different. In our small group discussions each group seems to have its own personality and direction. Mine wanted to know some simple truths like “if someone doesn’t forgive you do you still go to heaven?” “Do they still go to heaven?” “How do you protect yourself from rumors?”…then “how old are you?” and then amazed, because for heaven’s sake working outdoors and so hard for so long…they look much older than their years. They wanted to know what I ate, what I put on my face, if I plowed the ground and did digging.
We had three afternoon sessions, two young girls came into sing for us. Friday the kids will come in to sing “Jesus loves me” and “I’ve got a river of life”.
I spent the lunch time, with ½ tube of hand cream, began walking around the room and putting a tiny bit on each hand that was offered. 200 women and probably 75 children wanted to try the “grease” and had never seen such a thing. I showed them how to rub it in and then came upon the last woman who looked to be nearly 80. I have no idea her age, really, but she was tiny and calloused and her eyes were weak, but bright. I just felt God leading, so I sat down on the bench beside her and slowly took one hand, and then the other, put cream in each one, and began to rub it in, massaging it into her palm and then each finger. It was a moment I won’t soon forget. We had no common words, just this gesture. She hung her head watching the whole time and when I was finished, she looked at me, smiled and nodded. When I got up to leave, I noticed that about 6 of them women close by had been watching and smiling. “Bless you” one of them said, and I pray that it was some tangible way for them to know that we are their servants and that they can be tender to one another. How God will use that image for them, I don’t know, maybe not at all, maybe it was just a gift for me. We try so hard to capture each scene on our cameras in order to bring every part of Uganda home with us, but I fear the best will have to remain images on our hearts instead.
Yesterday it sunk in for most of us that we are leaving soon. The only thing that makes it easier is that I leave here to visit my Ruth. One of the staff members got a map for me and I can see where I am going. Some of the rest of the group will be travelling North as I am traveling west and we will meet in Entebbe to fly home. I met a woman last night from Uganda and familiar with the Compassion projects, she has suggested I take Ruth a dress, shoes and some “panties”. I haven’t seen the latter here, and I think I will forego asking my Ugandan driver to help me find some ladies “panties”. Until tomorrow….

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Uganda 2010 Day 8

Wednesday April 28th, 2010 marks one week gone and the mid point in our conference week. We are all starting to get attached to individual women, as they are to different ones of us. Shannon and Cristin have been taking the children out for part of the day to quiet our room just a little, but honestly there are still babies and toddlers in the room and I rarely hear a peep from them or see a woman distracted trying to keep them occupied. I’m not sure how they achieve such self control in their children at such a young age. I have seen no toys, nothing to entertain them. Mamas seem eager to have us hold them by walking up and offering them to us. So far 3 little ones have cried and held tight to their mothers when they see my white face and hands getting too close.

Two of our team stayed back at the hotel suffering with heat exhaustion or dehydration. I have to say that God has sustained me and protected me from either of those things, no headaches, no stomach issues with the food, no fatigue really. Thanks for praying those things for me. But with two women short, our small groups were larger and probably about 20 women in each. I must not ask the questions right, because they are so interested in counseling type questions, rather than going over the topics that have been taught.

Today they asked me “if I am having dreams, are they from God or the Devil?” “What things do American women struggle with?”, “What is birth control and how does it work?” (ya, I know. You are scared because you know how open I am which is exactly why I was scared to death trying to answer them truthfully and still be culturally sensitive, ya, I know!) “If I am married and then I am born again, do I have to divorce my husband who is not a Christian?” You know, easy stuff like that.

When you ask them if they have ever encountered God in a personal way, my word the miraculous things they have experienced make our jaws drop.

Praise and worship is interspersed throughout the day as well as an open microphone for women to share what they have learned or an experience that they remember where the topic would apply, i.e. forgiveness, grace etc…

We were served meat for lunch today, which is quite an honor and only the “visitors” were served that. We are thinking it was goat or beef and was good. It was served with potatoes, spaghetti type noodles and a fish sauce that looked like chunky pink yogurt. Now I know how it sounds, but when 100+ women are watching you eat and have sacrificed to honor you, YOU EAT IT and smile gratefully, honestly it has all been good. They don’t understand why we can’t clean our plates, because they eat a very small meal in the early morning and this meal at lunch time and that will be it for the day. We all just want to hand our plates over to someone else and please know they will take it without hesitation, but would never ask.

Everyone else had a large peeled boiled potato with the fish sauce poured over it. Again they ate theirs with their fingers, while we had forks. They collect all the plates from everyone and wash them in the back, bent straight over from the waist with a plastic wash tub, the size and dimensions of something we have at home when the oil is changed in the car, with soapless water…scrubbed by one, rinsed in a second tub by another then stacked to dry. There is no running water. This water was carted from somewhere and I promise you all 100+ plates were washed in the same portion.

We had plenty of water today and by 5:30 when the men usually arrive from the other location, I am surprised at how they day has flown by.

They are so so grateful that we have come. But today I told them that we appreciated everything they have done to show their appreciation and that this time next week when we are gone, they needed to know that visitors are not necessary. Encouraging, and interesting yes, but that everything they need is still in Kakiira, God and the Bible and people to support and love them as they continue to learn and walk with Jesus. “Amen, Amen! Hallelujah!” they shouted. But I know we will miss each other when the time comes.

One woman asked if I was available to come and speak at her church on Sunday, and I had to tell her that I would be leaving early Sunday morning. Dang.

The men shared at dinner tonight, that their day was really good and powerful. A man named Moses ate dinner with us tonight and is helping start a church in a village close to here. He said men are called to lead and serve, but they are not equipped. That is exactly what this ministry organization is focused on, so I think there will be some support for him and the new church at some point.

Its difficult to have an overall perspective of Uganda or Africa from this one small village. But my guess is, that this is the way of this country at least, if not most, of the continent. It really is a foreign place compared to the US and that has nothing to do with distance.

Please pray for another day of strength and changed lives. Today I will teach on the woman caught in adultery and the way Jesus protected that woman, yet spoke the perfect balance of love, grace and truth. Our internet is so spotty, it is frustrating not to be able to email or post on facebook personally. Please know that any moment we are not engaged with the women, I am thinking how much I want to share with you all about Uganda, Kakiira and what we are so privileged to be doing. Until tomorrow…

So sorry, not to have pictures today. I lightened my load to the village yesterday by taking only the video camera. I know photos are the best part...more today.

Shannon, Robin, Cristin are all back to great health. Susan our women's team leader is still down and I don't know if she's going to make it with us today. I would know that if I was actually at the meeting that started 10 minutes ago...but you are so important to me :) They are a patient group, so I'm good that way.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Uganda 2010 day 7

Today started out tough. We are running from 8am -9:30pm with meetings for preparation each day, traveling, speaking, sitting, singing, dancing, talking, hugging, and the heat and humidity. The internet is off and on, and when it’s off, there’s not much to be done about it.
I thinking I’m just missing some alone time, some down time to really prepare for the next day. But all in all things are running really smoothly, just my own personal moment of feeling not rested, not hydrated and not worthy.
But the women are amazing. Let me tell you, they work like mad in the early morning in order to make it to church by mid morning. They are dressed up, and so full of life. They are so grateful we are here. I think they view us as some sort of dignitary. American women bringing them something. But let me tell you when it comes to the word of God, they know it, they can quote it, and they know exactly how it applies. When it comes to the work of God, they see it. They are far more concerned with what God has done or is doing or showing them than the circumstances they are in. Though they don’t deny anything that is going on, and are pretty open.
I taught second today on John 11, Jesus raises Lazarus. It was awesome to be able to create a picture for them of the scene of what was happening, Thomas’ willingness to go with Jesus to Bethany even though he was sure they would all be killed. Martha’s profession that she believed Jesus was the Christ, even though he did not heal her brother and did not yet know he was going to raise him from the dead. I still see myself as the pouting child, stomping my feet a little bit at Christ not coming earlier and saving them all that sorrow. But as the women heard today, we love him, follow him, serve him…that doesn’t mean he’s still not doing his thing, glorifying the Father even if it upsets our lives and causes some pain for us. The funeral gathering and all those that were travelling with Christ made for a pretty big crowd to witness some mighty power and “many put their trust in Christ”. Are we still in when we get a NO to our prayer, knowing that God has a greater YES?…and it may not be about benefitting us at all. Anyway, thank you for indulging me as I relive it.
We broke into small groups and each had about 12 women and an interpreter. We had questions to initiate discussion about the two lessons taught, but I opened with asking them if they had any questions for me and that was that. It was really like a counseling session instead and some difficult questions like “what do I do if my husband is a believer, but found another wife?” “People call me to pray for them and they are also believing in the witch doctor, how can I get them to stop?” “When I am praying, I begin praying in tongues. Is that from God or from the devil?” “My friend is really depressed and doesn’t want to do anything, what should she do?” “I get really emotional when I pray for people, what can I do about it, is it ok?” (Ugandan women don’t show that kind of emotion) “What can we do about the younger generation who doesn’t want to go to church and follow Jesus?” So you know…nothing too life heavy or difficult!!!!
My word between every session, they get us all up to dance and sing partly because worship is so important to them and partly to wake everyone up for the next segment of the day. I promise they got a kick out of us joining them and I gave them a good laugh trying to figure out the shaking of my back side in just the right way. They are so fun about that kind of stuff , probably about 10 women came up to hug us and thank us for dancing with them. You know, I never knew I could sweat like that and I knew they don’t wear deodorant, but I am now wondering if mine is working and if I am smelling them or me?
The highlight today for me was being able to share from my past about the power of forgiveness and an altar call for anyone who needs to let go and forgive someone else. So as transparent as they are, about 70 of the 150 came forward for prayer. They gathered in a crowd and all of our team and some of the leadership spent about 15 minutes laying our hands on each one and praying for them.
Each day at dinner we share about our day and what is working and what isn’t. Each day gets better, everyone was more comfortable with the interpreters and the women are becoming so personally attached to us. I took a small purse size photo album today to share with a few and man did they pour over the few pictures I had of our family.
Once again the kids swarmed the camera and the bus, as we left. We put our hands out the window and they grab as we drive away, and run to keep up all the while waving and yelling goodbye. It’s a great way to begin and end the day. Feeling so blessed tonight…so impressed with the women we are meeting and their genuine hearts. I’ll close this one out by saying when we first arrived, the smell of something was really strong everywhere. I have to say the newbies among us thought it was marijuana and in a poor country, wouldn’t be surprised about the people seeking an escape from their suffering and hard life. I was so glad to hear, it is the charcoal they use and have resumed inhaling ever since I got the clarification…really could have been a really long or short trip otherwise…internet is down again, so I’ll try to get this one up in the morning before we leave. Love you all…thanks for praying us through.
Wednesday I will be teaching on a compassionate God from Luke 4. The widow of an only son who has died...Jesus goes to her, face to face and tells her "woman do not cry".

Monday, April 26, 2010

Uganda 2010 Day 6

Apparently sleep and I have issues...the way our room is set up, the window is around the corner and the bed area stays dark long after the sun comes up. I am so afraid I will over-sleep, I am just giving it up all together. The Captain will be so happy that I finally understand him. Ok that would be an overstatement, but possibly a small bridge has been started between our worlds. My cell phone time setting is stuck somewhere over the north pole and it would take some algebra to figure out what time to set the alarm for Uganda issues..., I have a few. As it turns out, Ambien became a monkey on my back in 4 short nights, so if someone will set up an intervention and ship me off to a program when I return to the Pacific Time Zone, my sleepless self would appreciate the tough love.
I am also developing a lust for lettuce and tomato. People get it with the burgers and because it is washed in water and not cooked, they move it off to the side and it sits, taunting me, the seeds in the tomato slice staring at me like an affair waiting to happen, leaves of lettuce curl at their edges like am embrace I haven't felt in nearly a week. Don't judge me, I've been battling this bondage for 6 days now.
Monday in Kakiira...we headed to the village, arrived in the van and were dropped right in front of the church to be swarmed again by the children waiting. The whole village has begun to anticipate our drives through and spending more of their time outside, or on the porch of their one room homes that line the dirt street, we hear the yelling of "Muzungu" by children all the way in. Pointing, smiling, waving, running to keep up, mama's with toddlers, pointing to us and waving. It's clear the children have been taught to greet us and shake our hands. Even the youngest comes toddling up in the meeting room to shake each woman's hand. I don't know how much English they know, but many times their reply is "I am fine" no matter what the question. Of course, our English and theirs is accently differently. Youth sounds like YUT, winner sounds like weener, etc... I had the girls, and the boys for that matter, twirling around my finger during the praise time yesterday. And formed a "London Bridge" trying to get them to move through in a line, but ended up being different ones getting under our bridged arms and doing one twirl, until they were pushed out by the next for a turn. Holding their hands and putting theirs on my cheeks was thrilling for them. Touching my straight, soft hair, another thing altogether. Today I will bring a small photo album of family pictures to show them. I can't imagine what they will think of my grandson and my daughter-in-law's very light hair. I believe they would swarm the Deeds in fascination.
Yesterday, they got bold enough to ask for sweets, though we each brought bags of candy, we have been warned not to pass it out in the village. That parents can work an entire year to give them candy for their birthdays.
We also saw 2 babies, with black bands around their middles. The pastor's wife explained this means they have been given over to the witch doctor, in trade for a promise of wealth. Once given over, it is up to this evil to decide when the child will be needed for sacrifice. The baby stays with its family until called. The wealth never comes, but what's done is done. I asked if giving them over was difficult for the mothers, only because I can't imagine even the thought being considered. "Yes, it is devestating". This is the picture of true, unbearable poverty. Why God allows this desperation I cannot fathom. It just cannot be true. My eyesight at that distance is God's protection. I cannot see the black band that others can see, I cannot bear to see the faces and its a good thing the van is moving, because don't think for a minute my heart wouldn't yank me out the door, open or not. Rescuing these would not solve the problem, more would suffer. Bringing them the gospel, the faith to trust God in all things on the other hand...that's the POWER that could change what's happening.
I did teach yesterday.
I had such a peace, thank you for praying. The woman at the well. Jesus with a divine appointment with a outcast, ashamed, Samaritan woman. Going out of his way, offering her what no man could...what her 5 husbands had not given her. What the man she was living with now could not give her...offering life and fullness that is everlasting, not fleeting, not dependent on another person.
I was the first of 4, each of us was thanked, one woman sent her child to each of the teachers with an avocado. I can't imagine the cost. Each session was followed by a time for question and answer or a report of what they had learned and they were told, "you need to ask questions, get clarification so that when you go out and teach these things you are prepared". Well there you have it.
Lunch was served and when I say lunch, I mean these people only eat one meal a day. What looked like stiff mashed potatoes was a white corn meal kind of thing covered in a ladle of beans. They ate with their hands using the corn meal to scoop the beans. They somehow had forks for us. And had fans blowing only on us and a box of cold water bottles was delivered to us, once in the morning, once in the afternoon. Their water was in sealed clear plastic bags. They would bite a tiny hole in the corner and squeeze or suck the liquid out.

Water bottles are filled here, then carried home.
We watched this woman struggling with these two water bottles. She has just stopped to rest for a moment before carrying on.

This grandmother with two of her 22 grandchildren. She is 77, beautiful.
It was a good day. The Lord did great things, we did what we were sent to do. It doesn't feel like enough, but poverty of heart and spirit, and absence of God can be reconciled and joy and peace can prevail in the hearts of His people. Please continue to pray that we are strong in body, clear of mind, protected from sickness, vulnerable to people, open in hearts and led by the Holy Spirit. Thank you dear help sustain us.
Shannon has some great pictures on her blog at

Uganda 2010 Day 5

Oh my pink gracious…the newlyweds are expecting and it’s a GIRL! I have tried to let them do all the announcing of this exciting news, but well…grandparents can’t help themselves, and Uganda or not…there’s a princess coming in September!

I want to start every post the same…I am overwhelmed. Redundant by true. I guess I should start the day by telling on myself. I have been taking a sleeping aid that was recommended for the plane, and then for the first two nights here to help adjust to the 10 hour time difference. On the plane, in Dubai and Friday night, I seemed to wake up part way through the night and be awake until morning, so last night I took the second option of taking 2 pills, hoping to extend my nights sleep to a full 8 hours.
I woke up this morning tangled in the mosquito net and a giggling roommate. It took some coaxing to get it out of her, but apparently just before the double dose took full effect, we had quite a conversation including a whopper about a former engagement and some financial problems with the wedding, some “emotional” talk about the little girl in the blue dress and then I untied the mosquito netting, told my roomy I was going to sleep under the “princess net” mumbled something and fell asleep…well more like a “sleeping beauty” coma I guess. I have no memory of any of the colorful escapade or the tall tales, but I do believe I will forgo the sleep aid for tonight. It would be totally like my brother to tell me 2 was ok, and he did say that, knowing I would completely entertain someone sometime. For the record, I have no idea where the notion of a former engagement story came from.
We met this morning for breakfast, and then headed to Kakiira for church. I went to the breakfast room and tearfully met with a couple of the leaders. “I can’t live so safely”. I told them how compelled I was to dash out of the van yesterday, yet felt so tied to the seat. I told them that I understood we don’t want to do anything that would jeopardize the rest of the week, but I am still having such a difficult time, sitting is not nearly enough. Its not that I want to spare them the poverty, but loving and talking to a child struggling or sent out by family to scavenge food…sitting is not nearly enough. I felt like a silly female, and I hate feeling like a silly female, well the female part isn't a problem...
I was so impressed by the poverty yesterday, until today…when the village of Kakiira made Jinja look like paradise. It was the best and the worst of Uganda. Humble people, waiting to greet our van like we were celebrities, beautiful smiles, warm greetings, adorable children, dirt, shacks, hunger, rags, children carrying children.
I have only a few pictures to show for the visit. Today I wanted to see them, greet them, not wanting to make them feel like a photo opportunity. They didn’t mind a bit though, when another camera came out. Crowding around and smiling, making funny faces. I did video tape a little bit and was able to turn the view finder around so that the children could see themselves on the camera screen and that alone made them squeal in delight.
Cows, goats, chicken roam freely and mingle along with the residents on the torn up dirt roads.

Then we descended a set of stairs into the church. The underground meeting room was about ½ full when we came in but quickly filled. We were seated in special plastic chairs right up front, facing the center podium, while the regulars sat on benches, perpendicular to us, facing the front. Then church began. Because of the angle of our seats, we could see both the front and the congregation's faces and I found myself studying the faces of the women I have already love come to love. Noticing the ones who smile, and the ones who don’t. Worship leaders sang without accompaniment, freely, one song flowing into the next. Worship was demonstrative…feet moving, hands clapping and raised hands, loud voices. Children sitting with their parents were more than a little curious watching our fair skinned bunch.
Sneaking stares at us and smiling or ducking back behind a post or a mama. Directly behind us was an opening in the wall and there were about 10 young children, sitting in the dirt, peaking down at us. My word if I could have recorded it all without showing disrespect I would have.
Pastor Tracy Cook from Ventura was asked just before the service began, to preach today…people came forward to “testify” about God’s goodness. Offering was taken and 2 hours later, we were excused to greet each other. Children approached to eagerly shake hands with the “Muzungus” (foreigners). At one point I sat on a bench to talk to the pastor’s daughter and the tiniest little guy came over, slipped his hand in the crook of my arm and smiled while he stroked my forearm. What on earth he was thinking, I have no idea, but I didn’t really care. I was saying “Jesus loves me” one word at a time as he tried to repeat it. It was heaven in that whole in the ground. We finally tore ourselves away and made it back to the street where stickers were passed out and more pictures taken.
I sat silently on the way back. It’s just too much to take in. Rich in beauty, poor in possessions. Tomorrow we’ll talk about the spirit.

When we returned to the hotel we all felt like we needed some exercise, so we walked about 3 miles to the source of the Nile River, at Lake Victoria.
I'm in DeNile, like that's news to anybody!
Did a little shopping and took a boat ride…blah, blah, blah…the only thing worth mentioning is the pocket full of candy and the few children along the walk back.

A 10 year old carrying water on her head to her family, 3 little ones playing in the road…we didn’t need to bride them, they came close at the spectacle we were, but it was absolutely delightful to give them a piece of candy and watch their faces light up.

We ate dinner and then met about our first day of the conference. Day 1, session 1 is my assignment. Did I mention I haven’t actually taught before? “Woman at the well, Jesus going out of his way for the outcast”. Please pray that the Holy Spirit would just take over, cause oh my word, I am in Uganda and going to pretend to be a teacher tomorrow.

Thank you for sending me, thank you for allowing me to experience Uganda. Thank you for giving me a place to tell of my love for Jesus and His love for women. I wish I could say I have no words…but apparently I have a couple. Love you all. Internet’s been down all day here, so I’ll throw this one up first thing in the morning…bout 10pm ish Sunday for y'all. (What am I Southern now?)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Uganda 2010 day 4-Too much protection-too much regret.

We headed to Jinja this morning to do some business, exchange cash for pre paid cell phones, and other incidentals. Our trusted bus driver knew which bank was the least likely to be difficult and he was right, the AK47's had no problem letting us in the bank. Don't tell the captain, but I spent about 150,000 this morning, in my defense it was not all at one place and this girlfriend knows how to bargain. Now seriously haggling over the equivalent of 70 cents seems just wrong, but I heard it is offensive not to challenge them. For the record, I have no sensitivity to someone paying me full price ever...but I am all American like that.
Lest you wonder, I paid about 1,000 shillings for the priviledge of taking their picture. Well worth it to all 3 of us. And then these two darlings. Just playing in the dirt with two sticks. The younger one was social and smiled ear to ear, speaking for his shy older brother. I was grateful they indulged me and after a little while they let me take their picture. Note to self: Never ever go out again without a pocket full of candy.

There was much to see on the road into the commercial area. Lots of people walking, women carrying their babies on their backs,

lush green everything, roadside "store fronts"

and a few funny looks at a van full of fair skinned people with their cameras sticking out the windows. We're trying to blend in and all.

As each of us finished trading our $100.00 bills, we returned to the van to wait for the rest of the group...where God allowed this to unfold while we waited...

We watched as this little one drag the heavy bag of trash from who knows how far, across a street to this dumpster. Looking back I realized given any other situation, I would have made my way to her as soon as I had scene her struggling with the weight. But I am under the direction and protection of the leaders of our group and it dawns on me the reason I dislike protection so. I needed to run to her, not sit in the van safely protected from the germs or anything else. Instead, I sat, we sat, silently, stunned as the scene was unfolding before us.

Unable to hoist it onto the overflowing heap, she dumped it right there in the dirt, shaking the container to empty the last piece and left with the bag in the direction she had come. And then this...
a woman, thin as the stick she's holding picking, scavenging, searching, carefully going over each piece in the small heap. Don't be confused, this wasn't a bag of any substance...nothing large enough to identify, just garbage. As she picked, several young boys jumped up in the refuse and began sorting through. One found a banana, peeled it and shared it with the other two. And we sat. Paralized. Holding close our new shillings, the near equivalent of 1/2 a year's wages for either famiy represented in the rubble. Who am I and how am I going to negotiate for the freedom to get involved?This is too careful, too protected, too much to bare. Too much.

I will never forget the sitting, the silence, the regret.

So tonight we are safe after an afternoon meeting and prayer over each other, a meal and now a bed room. The woman...the boys...the little girl in the blue dress...I wonder.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Uganda 2010 Day 2/3

Uganda 2010…Day 2/3

Quite possibly or maybe definatly for sure…hitting the wall tonight. 49 hours of travel...done. My computer isn’t getting the internet in our room at the moment…so I’ll write this post and try to upload it tomorrow. We started today in Dubai. About midnight we fell in to bed and even with a sleep aid, I was awake bright eyed at 4:30am. I don’t know about you, but a bath sounded perfectly wonderful at that hour. We met for breakfast, packed up and were on the shuttle bus by 6:30. We saw very little of Dubai except some impressive looking buildings and only from a distance. We got through security, customs, passport checking, double passport checking, ticket checking, all the while I could see Starbucks taunting me as the minutes ticked by. But grabbing the internet connection when we could, the laptoppers settled in for a quick check and post and used up my Starbucks time.
Then we ran across a group that had been on our same flights from a program called the Joshua Campaign. The group consisted of a couple about my age, and 8 college aged boys/men. Several times a year a contact scopes out a very remote tribe in Ethiopia that has never heard the gospel. The fly into Ethiopia, drive for 3 days as far as they can, then are airlifted in to the area. Camels bring their food and water supplies every couple of days and they stay for a month. They have language barriers, but find translators and tell stories for 29 days starting in the old testament, through Jesus burial and resurrection. Many people come to the Lord and everytime, someone has followed right behind them to continue to disciple this tribe for about a year and a new church is planted. Darned, just when I wanted to complain about the mouse we saw scurrying across the dining room watching for crumbs here at our hotel, you know the one with a bed and running water? The hotel not the mouse. I missed the Gecko on the ceiling in the restaurant. Pretty sure he comes and goes as he pleases.
Back to the Ethiopia…So we talked for a few minutes and prayed for them and they for us, The “CEO” of our trip called us up and marching, to the gate and bus ride to take us to the tarmack to board.
Flight 4 hours: an hour in Ethiopia to drop off passengers and another 2 hours to Uganda. Remember that camera I said Emirates has on the bottom of the plane…quite a rush to watch it during landing!
Saturday morning… it’s warm this morning, but not miserable. Clouds cover the sky and it has been raining off and on. No mosquitos in sight. I snuck outside to SKYPE with Kristen and the Deeds and sat outside so I didn’t disturb anyone and the staff walking back and forth seemed more than curious about why I was sitting on a curb in my PJ’s talking to a laptop.
We were given the choice this morning about whether we wanted to go to the bank or send our cash for exchange. AK47’s and raucous negotiating of the exchange rate…darn right I’m going…I think it will be one of those moments I will wish I could take pictures or video but my better judgment will win. Please tell the Captain, yes, I have taken and unpacked my better judgment, he will be so relieved.
A good portion of yesterday's van ride was during daylight and as daily Uganda life flew by the windows, the economic conditions have started to become obvious. Many, many, many sellers set up on the side of the roads…very few buyers. Huddled groups of men on motorcycles like New York city cabbies, hoping they will get a fare of some kind for the day. Beautiful dark skinned people.
A small group from Kakiira came to pick us up, and 21 year old Sarah and Caroline sat with us on the ride home. They were quiet girls but willing to briefly answer our questions…brief answers are not at all satisfying to a heart wanting to connect, but I can be patient. Tomorrow our purpose gets into full gear. Introducing ourselves in the church service, and giving a brief explanation of why each one of us as come…I know, and yes, I will work hard on the brief, let the suffering begin. Brief is not one of my spiritual gifts…
Please pray that as we move closer to our week of teaching that the Holy Spirit would just take us over and we would give of ourselves in whatever way he calls and that the truth of a loving, saving Jesus would shine above all things.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Ugana 2010 Day 1 UGANDA TIME

The week beginning Monday April 19th has been an exciting one to say the least.
As I type, I sit in row 33C of an Emirates 777 airliner.
This a deluxe airline for sure. Economy passengers don’t enjoy all that those forward in Business class and First class do, but they do let us parade by them on the way to our seats, just to make them jealous of the glorious party we enjoy back with the crowd. The individual TV screens offer so many choices mine is turned off ‘cause I am too overwhelmed with the options, ok after a couple of games of Tetris, and (can I just say I used to be good at that game, now it just frustrates me) and I’m hesitant to sleep with all the opportunity. I am a Carpe Diem-er, remember, so to sleep through, seems a waste of time. I believe hour 4 and on my change my mind.
The plane has two exterior view cameras we can click into at any time, one faces forward, and I do believe we were all witnesses to a little tail gating by our pilot on the runway, and it dawns on me, that could be the most accurate use of the term, ever. There is a power outlet in each row, so if I get a little wordy, well more than usual, remember 15 hours…
On Sunday evening, AD sent over the last of the darling dresses she has been sewing up for me to take along. Each one unique, and a labor of love.
I packed my own clothes, etc… and honestly, can’t believe it all fit, but yes it did. Now my carry on, a little on the heavy side with all the stuff I wanted to have access to on the plane…laptop, camera, video camera, books, games, change of clothes etc…Getting to these things, not so convenient, but with 15 hours in the air, I can pace myself that way.
We met this morning at 10am, got to know the rest of the group that travelled down from Paso Robles and I swear these women have so much to share, experienced a good dose of life and are just as anxious to serve Uganda. Dann made sure his girl was gonna be taken care of, or maybe that was chaperoned…not sure exactly where one ends and the other begins but both are entirely appropriate.
Got a text message from AD’s dad as we left the airport…”You Go Girl!” Its just where my heart is. If I could just for a minute lay it all on the line, I would tell you there is no greater thrill than to share my love for my Jesus with others. Why it is taking me so far away I can’t really answer, except that I want to say YES to every opportunity and considering the cost takes no time at all. The cost seems greater to let it slip away.
My prayer time this week as been permeated with the plan that I want to miss no opportunity. God revealed in me an weakness and mistake in my thinking when it comes to praying for others. I have tended to pray so safely for people that have yet to put their trust in Christ. I realized I was trying to protect God’s reputation by praying safely. I am praying that in Uganda we have an opportunity to ask God for some big things for the people of Kakira and that God shows himself mighty by answering prayer in dramatic ways. Big Goal…Big God. I know he’s up to it and I can’t wait!
10pm Dubai…Noon at home…We’ve landed gotten to our hotel and seen very little of Dubai. Shannon and I are sharing a room and have wandered the hotel wondering as we’re wandering if our usual habit of making eye contact and saying thank you is inappropriate for women when addressing men, cause we are getting a few funny looks. Please tell the Captain, that though I am like a kid in a candy store, mesmerized by every culture difference I see, I left the Burka clad women to proceed freely and only watched from a distance. I am closing this post with this picture of me putting a sweatshirt on during the flight. Only because have you ever seen more excitement in the eyes of a completely grown up woman, than this number? I’ll post again as soon as the internet allows. Pray for us as we are praying that God will do a work…for now…sleep!

Can't get the pictures to upload tonight. I'll try again tomorrow, may at the airport before we leave...Love you all...Ambien kicking in.

Crazy but true...all my blogger sign in stuff etc... is in Arabic...had to guess where to sign in etc...