Thursday, September 16, 2010

Today my heart finds itself there...

Today I found my heart in a faraway place.

Today I learned what it means to have nothing yet have everything.

Today I became friends with angels.

Today they made me feel beautiful.

Today my knowledge of the world changed.

Today my feelings were hurt.

Today I experienced happiness beyond my wildest dreams.

Today God made me feel pain.

Today God held me.

Today I was in Africa.

-Patricia Szafranski (Mocha Club)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I miss these faces

Something terrible.

Especially this one. I mean, come on! How could you not??

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Hello Europe

I'm currently in Brussels Belgium with 3 hours to spare... I managed to find some free wi-fi, praise the Lord! And I am only 15hrs of flying away from Seattle. I don't mind the long layovers between flights, it's helped me to enjoy flying and to relax a little. I left Uganda at 11pm last night and arrived here about 7am. The red-eye flights are really my favorite. I get to fall asleep surrounded by a million beautiful stars and wake up during the sunrise over Rome. Everything is beautiful from above. The sky, the stars, the mountains, the blazing sun and the glorious landscape. I don't know how you could see all of this and not worship God for His creation. Beyond the beauty, my heart is already missing Africa. Saying good-bye to Dovie and Pastor Danny was not easy and as I waited for my flight out it all hit me like a heavy stone sitting at the bottom of my gut. Now I carry the weight of my experience with me, knowing I cannot forget Uganda or it's people. It's a beautiful thing being split in two. I am now apart of two countries with my heart longing for one, while my head brings me to the other. I suppose we need that tension in our lives to guard us from a stagnate faith and stale pursuit of God. We are small beings in a heavy world but we serve a mighty God.

Monday, July 12, 2010

time to pray

So I am not sure how many of you heard the news... but last night there was 3 bombings in Kampala at some of the bars that were showing the world cup final. I was there that day and 2 days previous in Kampala but left for Jinja in the evening before the bombings occurred. It was said to be an attack from the Somali terrorists and out of the three places bombed, one was a suicide bomber. One of the blasts occured at the Ethiopian village, in Kabalagala which is not far from the house. So far it has been reported that over 60 people have died and even more are injured. It is quite the tragedy really. I was shocked when Pastor Jeff told me the news this morning. Last night me and him both went out to watch the World Cup final, praise God we were in Jinja. Please be praying for the families of those whose lives were lost yesterday. I hope that no one is worried, as some of the pastors have received many calls asking about our safety. Everyone is well and safe here thanks to God's protection! Also, be praying for my travels tomorrow. Tomorrow is my last day in Uganda and I fly out at 11pm, arriving in America on Wednesday around 7pm. I am praying for a smooth 29 hrs of total travel. It has been such a wonderful experience here and it is hard to think about being away for so long until my next return. Soon I will be greeting you all from America. Praise God for his provision and protection!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

the kids

Teacher Shillah, Teacher Lindsey, Teacher Judith and some of the kids of Precious Children.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

saying goodbye

So today was officially my last full day in Hoima. It was my last day at the school. The last day with the people I have grown to love and care for deeply. And it was rather difficult saying goodbye... more than just bittersweet. The people here have made me feel so loved and appreciated over this last month. When saying goodbye I was getting so choked up, it caught me off guard. I am going to miss the people and friends terribly. They were right when they said that a month is just enough time to fall in love and leave. Well I am finding myself leaving now and realizing that my time here has hardly felt like a month. Each day seemed to dance itself away and now my time in Hoima is over. I hope I can keep it together when I have to part with the family here too... What a blessed time this has been.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

These people know how to laugh

My cheeks hurt from all the laughter tonight at dinner. Jeffery Png and Pastor Danny are some of the funniest people I have ever met. Seriously, if we are not enjoying a nice conversation, we are laughing until I fear my face will be stuck. I am really enjoying myself and the relationships I have built. I feel very comfortable here and it is because of all the wonderful people I have met. 3 key leaders of the church are leaving for the Bible School in Jinja tomorrow and I am going to miss them terribly. This week we went to one of the secondary schools in the district and did a presentation on HIV/AIDS. I should add that I still get very nervous to speak publicly but I have been put in SO many situations to do so with no notice. So I have learned to think on my toes and really just allow God to take control and use me as needed. I swear sometimes I feel like I just close my eyes and start speaking and then when I open, everyone is smiling with appreciation.
Needless to say, I presented on the Prevention portion in front of a couple hundred students. It was actually a really incredible opportunity and time to educate the kids, so I felt very blessed to be a part of it. Also, yesterday and today I held a training for the new Kids Church materials that our church gave to the programs here in Hoima. And after that training I held a training for the Ushering Ministry. The funny thing is... I am not a qualified teacher in these areas but God manages to equip me and teach me in each of these areas too. So it has been quite the learning experience. I also went to the Clinic in one of the villages this morning and to hear the stories and to know the need is truly just devastating. We thank God for His faithfulness and provision in these things though. Visitors arrived today, one family from America and then Pastor Jeff and Lillian. It's so great, the family from America just happens to be Northwest University Alumni and they know so many of the same people that I do. The connections here are just so crazy and I am excited to be meeting so many different people during my time. The weeks have really flown by and I am seeing now that I don't have much longer before I return to America. Already there are many people talking about how much we will miss each other, although I don't want to think about leaving quite yet. In this next week I am traveling to Kampala and then even further north to Jinja. After that I will return and be leaving again to fly out. Anyways, tomorrow they are having me teach Sunday school which I found out tonight so again I know despite my inadequacies God will prepare and use so I thank Him for that. Oh, they may also have me help lead worship tomorrow... Lord help us all. Haha. I thank God that even though I am often stretched with the things they ask for me to do, I know the people believe in me and have confidence in my service to them.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Take a look

Here are a couple of pictures of the set up of where I am at...

This is the school compound. I am that last classroom on the far right. I spend most days here from 8am-5pm. Then somedays I return again around 6pm for prayer, worship, or bible study.

The first two older girls are what I call trouble... ahem. I mean Lilian and Doreen. But they sure do cause me trouble. Fighting over chairs, crying over fights, and constant battles with the teacher. They are bright kids though and we manage to share laughs and have some good fun.

This is my room, normally it is invaded with the boys. There is no down comforter nor a need for one. A sheet is plenty of warmth for the night.

this is the Siega's house and compound. It's really a beautiful place and like a mansion compared to the mud huts and small shacks that surround us in the city. They have fresh papaya that grow from the trees as well as the nice and smelly Jack Fruit.

The hills of Hoima and coming rainstorms. I am surrounded by beauty here...

Monday, June 28, 2010

The story of your grace

I had a nice day today where I got to spend a lot of time reflecting, just sitting with my thoughts. At the school there seems to always be a lot of down time. When the kids eat, play, watch videos, or whatever they are doing that isn't in class teaching there is time. I suppose it is easy to be bored around here with the lack of entertainment but I am soaking in this time to reflect and digest. I know I say this about every time but God knew exactly where I needed to be. I can't describe my appreciation for this family. Pastor Danny and Dovie mentor me in remarkable ways, every day. They may just count it as conversation but I am gaining a wealth of knowledge. I feel so comfortable too, Dovie is a woman of God I admire very much. I am glad I can be honest with her, it is something I cherish. I came to her with some troubles on my heart and she just sat me down and prayed with me... how wonderful is that? And the three boys (12yrs old, 9yrs old, and 6) they keep me very busy! Everyday I am here they are in my room, laying in my bed with me, fighting and talking while I catch up on email. I find myself in many boxing matches, hanging from door frames doing pull ups with them, and laughing as they run around tormenting one another. Meshach, the youngest one, seems to be very attached to me, almost literally. At the school, I have to fight to get my hand back from his grip. And at home when I come out of the bathroom, he is waiting me. Tonight, all three boys were in my bed and I finally told them I was going to sleep so they started to leave but Meshach hid in my pillows and tried refusing to leave. He tells me all the time that he wants to sleep in my room. Oh, and it is so funny... if I am leaving the school for any reason and I tell him I am leaving, he says, "What you're leaving?! Can I come to your home with you please? I am going to miss you!" ...Every time I tell him I am leaving he thinks I am flying back to America. Haha. It is always so interesting though, it seems that the times when I am tired and could use some alone time, the boys are around me 24/7. Then during the times when I want to play or goof around, they don't seem in the mood or are gone. It just makes me laugh. Anyways, I have another day tomorrow of teaching the kids math. I am praying for some rejuvenating rest and a successful day!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Each day is a mystery to me. I am sure of 3 things, if it is a weekday from 8am til 1pm or 5pm I am at the school. If it is Friday there is prayer and if it is Sunday, there is church. Beyond that each day holds a new adventure for me. As much as it is exciting, it can be equally frightening. This last day at school was a difficult one. The students were so naughty and I was drained in every way. Sometimes the kids just suck everything out of you, leaving you tired and irritable. I was so thankful for our prayer time later that night. It was at this time that I realized I am feeling much more comfortable and at home here. I am becoming more in tune spiritually with the flow of things and it has helped me to relax and really allow God to move how He desires without feeling awkward or restrained by my American Christianity. Experiencing another culture has really shown me aspects of God and spirituality that I have never been exposed to. It is humbling to step outside of myself and the culture that I find so comforting. I am inspired to reach further and push harder as I learn to utilize my resources and talents. I have also been having dreams of returning home and sharing the tales and wonders of Africa.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Teacher Lindsey

I find it hard to believe that I have been insured a class of 5 and 6 year olds. I have been given the responsibility of teaching them English, Math, Science, Reading, and Crafts. Yesterday I taught them how to add... and boy was it a challenge! I wanted to take a nap and forget about trying to pass the language barriers. Today was much better! The kids listened to me and we had a great amount of fun! I taught them about the importance of their ears! We played listening games, one which I made up on the spot. I have been quite impressed with the quickness of my brain lately. As a foreigner, everyone expects you do have a bunch of new ideas to share with everyone. Like the first morning I come to the school for a full day, they have the kids circle up and then they say... "ok! Teacher Lindsey is going to show us a new morning exercise and activity to do!"
...crap. Think fast. Think fast. Oh! I got it... duck, duck, goose! Phew, dodged that one!
Then later after lunch:
"Alright students! Teacher Lindsey is going to show us a new rhyme for us to learn..."
...oh no. Uhhhh. Think like you've never thought before! Ok... um, how about 'If you're happy and you know it'?
Haha, that is my life at the moment.
I got to teach the kids the importance of their nose too. It was fun, I took a thing of yo-gos and opened it just a little, then I took Bill's sock which of course hasn't been washed and is extremely dirty. I tell the kids to close their eyes, then I hold up either the sock to their nose or the sweets and they have to tell me if it smells good or bad. Oh man, it was hilarious. They had fun but it is all so exhausting. I spent today in the village at the Crusade, which is enjoyable but I've never been stared at so much in my entire life. I lean forward, listening to the speaker looking in one direction and the kids sitting on the bench are all looking the other direction staring straight at me. I'm like, 'really?? is there something on my face?? Oh, wait, I'm the only white person for miles.' I feel like with so much staring I should have a magic trick ready or something because I am awfully boring to stare at. Anyways, every day brings something new and I can't help but thank God for every day I am here. The family is beyond amazing, I am learning more than ever, I am being stretched in so many ways, and I am absolutely loving the African life.

the dust in your eyes

Driving on the remote village roads on the way to a Crusade deep in the outskirts of Hoima. I hold on for dear life as the wind tangles my hair in the back of the 4x4 bed. I am surrounded by people, they are sitting on the floor, they are next to me on the benches, they fill every space that our equipment doesn't occupy. There is drumming and singing while some let out battle cries. We hit holes that nearly toss some out of their seats, we swerve, we get wacked by trees and grass as the road narrows. I am covered in bugs and leaves, but all I can do is smile. I bite into the stick of sugar cane that I hold in my free hand. Although I am covered in dirt that smears onto the cane, I use my teeth to rip off the sweet chunks, then I spit out the root. Sugary spit and water runs down my face and others' excess hits me too. Even though the road is like a rodeo ride, the praise continues. I sit here and think to myself... This. Is. Africa.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Humor of the day

There are a lot of funny little things that happen throughout the day, I'll have to share a few of them with you. Well the first night I was in Hoima, Pastor Danny and I traveled with brother Stephen (he is a local) and me and him talked a little bit when we got to the house. He asked me if I exercised, I told him yes but only for my track training. He then said, "ah, I thought that you looked lazy." I laughed so hard and wondered how he figured that one out so quick... The culture here is much different because in Africa big is beautiful. So today I was showing the family my pole vault pictures and some video and they were so captivated that they wanted one of their workers, Vivian to see too. So she came and she was so surprised! She told me, "You are fat, but you can jump." Hahah, oh brother. Pastor Danny asked if in America that would be offensive and of course I said yes, so he explained to Vivian and she just thought that was crazy. She could not understand why being fat would be taken the way it was. I told them that there are Americans that are much larger than I, so if I was fat, I'd be curious to hear what they say of them. Haha. I spend a lot of time listening to the family and talking with the mother, Dovie. Sometimes when we go around town or whatever is planned for the day, we will just sit and talk for hours. This afternoon when I was sitting at the table talking after lunch, I was playing underneath the table with the place mat that was hanging over when all of a sudden a grasshopper flew from my lap into my face. I about pooed my skirt. I'm not talking about some small grasshopper, this thing was the size of at least two of my fingers. Everyone acted like it was normal, while my heart was beating faster than it had ever gone. The kids later ripped the legs off and played with it. Also, while in town today I passed this girl hard-core picking her nose... and I don't think it is a cultural thing. I couldn't help but laugh. It was an eventful day, we also did visitation and prayed for a lot of people. We traveled by foot from house to house to see different women. The first lady is a sister in the church who helps a lot. They are always so welcoming and excited to spend time with the foreigner. After our time together she gave me a pineapple as a gift. I can't explain how humbling it is. These people have houses the size of my bedroom and they have a whole family. They truly have nothing, and the little they do have, they offer as a blessing to the visitors. It touches my heart greatly. We also visited a woman who's child was very sick from Malaria. We got to pray for him and their situation. All these experiences are so new but they are teaching me a great amount about my faith. Eventually after we went to the market, we came back for lunch and had the most delicious meal. I was tired when I got back and accidentally fell asleep around 5pm and didn't wake up till 9pm. I couldn't believe it... my body is still adjusting. I am hoping that after a week I will feel normalish. Tomorrow we have church and I will get to meet everyone that has been praying for my arrival, I am very excited!

Friday, June 18, 2010

I haven't seen my face

There is only one mirror in the house, so needless to say, I have had no idea what I've looked like all day. It is interesting but I don't mind. I went with Pastor Danny and Dovie (the family I am staying with) to a prayer meeting tonight. It was so incredible. Words can't really describe what it was like... but each person gave thanks for something in their life. Why the people thank God is much different than anything I would ever hear from anyone in America. There may have been ten or fifteen people there and each person gave testimony to how thankful they were that I was there. That I was already changing western Uganda by being there and that I would give so much to the people. I was completely overwhelmed. I have never been greeted so kindly and been so blessed by someones words. Those are the most humbling moments really. I am thankful that God granted me the grace to come. Anyways, after that we worshiped together and it was so much fun. I did not know the words and because of my severe case of being white, I had trouble clapping but those people sure know how to worship! They are so full of joy and thanksgiving, you can't help but smile and praise God. And listening to those people pray really awakens your spirit. Americans tend to be more reserved and quiet but these people pray with much gusto! The ministry here is incredible. I can't stop saying that... It is all so encouraging and challenging to my Christian walk. I am learning a lot. I find myself watching and listening only to try and replicate what they are doing. Especially when we eat. It's so funny being a foreigner. You feel so silly all of the time because you haven't got a clue as to what you are doing! I am just glad everyone is so kind and accepting. I've loved hearing the stories and getting to learn more about the culture. Dovie and Pastor Danny have shared a lot about their ministry and heart for Uganda with me and it blesses me. I am so lucky to be here and to work beside them. One last thing... I am really white. When I am in my room alone, I don't think so but when I am with the locals I am the whitest thing know to man.

I've waited so long to meet you

So I am going to try and share a little bit of my experiences with everyone, although I cannot promise that I will be able to do this often. I have finally arrived in Hoima, Uganda. After 2 days of flying, followed by a 4 hour car ride the next day, I am thoroughly pleased to be grounded! I didn't expect flying to be as awful as it was... I really didn't care for it. I got sick on my second flight, I felt nauseous for most of the traveling and was completely exhausted! Nevertheless, I am here and enjoying it very much. I met the children from the school today. They are the cutest things on the entire planet! My office will be at the school so I will be spending a lot of time with them. When I arrive they all giggle and shout "mazungo!" which means white person. Then they come up and touch my arms and skin to see if I am really human. Some just stare at me and giggle. Then when I left they said goodbye like 200 times in unison. I can't wait to be back there! A little bit earlier there was probably 75-100 kids running outside of my window shouting and screaming in celebration (although it could have been mistaken for terror) I think because school had just gotten out.
I still have jet lag, although I slept in pretty late today. I wake up around 5am so incredibly hungry for some reason. My body is still trying to adjust, I think it is still stuck in Washington! I have so much to say but I am leaving for a prayer meeting soon. The food has been crazy. My taste buds are experiencing culture shock. The first day I had authentic Singaporean food, then a Korean meal, as well as a Filipino meal and today I had an African lunch at a local shop. I had Jack Fruit, which is a sister fruit to the Durian fruit. It grows everywhere here. And some fresh Papaya from outside the house. They eat a lot of bread here too. The food is so interesting. When I eat it I am so full that I think I will never eat again but then like 25 or 30 minutes later I am so hungry again. So strange! Food is a very big thing here. I am enjoying everything, minus the bugs. Haha. It is all a big adjustment but I love it. The bathroom is a hole in the floor and I shower with a bucket. The family is so wonderful and very funny. Tomorrow and Sunday will be very big days. I am going to rest now.