Friday, October 24, 2014

Brutal Honesty

I'm going to just take a moment to be brutally honest.

Maybe I should use different words.

Those pretty much make the most sense though. I want to put all of the dirt on the table and you can see for yourself...

...that sometimes this is hard.

Even though the blessings that the Lord provides for me to encounter- everyday- out weigh the bad moments. There are still a lot of things that come up that are not so amazing about this life.

I still live on earth. And I still work with humans. Humans that have grown up in a completely different culture than me. That makes our conflicts twice as interesting as yours. I guarantee it.

I am going to tell you the truth in this post.

1. Using a mosquito net is like making the decision to shave your legs

While you have all the intention of following through and doing it every day- there are just some days that you don't get around to it. And that's ok.

2. Not every project we do is absolutley incredible and life changing.

Sometimes I have to do things I don't want to do. Whether it's laundry that has been pooped in or thrown up on, or sharing with a group of kids in a hot room that are all giggling.

3. A boda - boda (motorcycle) just goes so much faster sometimes...and so much cleaner than taxis.

Mom, you should probably cover your eyes for this one. When you know the traffic is going to be bad and it will take you two hours to get somewhere 15 minutes away. You are willing to take that risk. That is until you get stuck in between two cars and my knees are hitting against people's doors. It's one of those "seemed like a good idea at the time" kind of expirience. Taxis smell gross here. There have been many times i have rode in one with the seats unscrewed from the floor and a chicken flapping around.

4. Rice and beans. Peas. Potato.

Usually before lunch we will all guess what we are having for lunch and there are many times it's rice and beans. Sometimes it's a mountain of peas. It's hard to eat the same meal all the time. Think of everything you can make with potatoes and that's what we make. Carb loading every meal. (That's why I brought a suitcase full of snacks)

5. "Cultural sensitivity" aka MZUNGU

No matter where you go will be called mzungu. Because you are white. I have learned the equivalent word in Luganda which happens to be MDUGAVU. Sometimes when I am done hearing the phrase 'marry me mzungu' I will say a phrase back using the equivalent word. :)

6. Lifesaver vs. Power

Your fan is your best friend until the power goes out. Which seems to happen when it is hottest. Sometimes I will literally be preparing to skype home or watch a movie and the power just stops. It doesn't care what plans you have previously made. It just shuts off. That's when you start to look around at your house mates and pull out your creativity. Most of the time it's after it is dark as well.

7. Repetition.  What?

Some words we say in the states are not so much the same here. We have lots of phrases which I use in my sarcasm that just don't add up to some people here. I constantly find myself repeating comments over and over again and then just giving up. You don't say What unless you want to fight. You say yes please?

8. Chicken, turkeys, children....

These are the three culprits that wake me up at the crack of dawn. Not a morning goes by that I don't hear the gobble of the neighbors (all 10 of the turkeys) that live next door. They also have a dog named Simba. Everytime we walk through their yard to get to the local grocery store. Especially when it is dark outside. Simba likes to pretend that he doesn't know us and barks like he is going to attack us. Gives us a mini heart attack every time.

9. Time.

Nothing seems to ever happen on time. It is just Ugandan culture. That everything has its own season. For our bible study for example.  We have an arrival time of 5:30 meaning people leave their house at 6:00 and arrive a half hour after leaving their house.

10. The future that holds the unknown. 

As we work to achieve so many goals and as the ministry grows and we continue to see things change. There is still so much unknown. So many things that I am uncertain of. It's exciting and frustrating to not know what tomorrow looks like.

These are just a few of the things that I struggle with being here. God is so faithful to bring us to and through anything. I would not trade this life for anything in the whole wide world. I will eat rice and beans for the rest of my life if it means serving God in whatever capacity possible. Often times we challenge God that to fulfill something in our lives before we are willing to surrender and serve him whole heartedly. Thankful to be where I am and serve in one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.

Philippians 2:14-18 ESV

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.

Rejoicing in the fact that my saviour chose me to spend my days in a place I never thought I could go. Giving me an opportunity to reach so much farther than I could have dreamed. And loving deeper than anything I have ever known. Even in the midst of failure I will serve the Lord.

These are just some of my 2 am thoughts. Thanks for listening. ♡

Monday, October 13, 2014

The city of 1,000 hills

God has given me so many things to fill my time in the last few weeks that I am not sure even where to start. The week after Tonny passed away was hard. Emotional. I can say that I had really hi moments and then would just hit a wall and cry. Every once in a while it hits me. Sometimes in the weirdest of places. It still gets me everyonce in a while. BUT I am more happy than sad now. I am so thankful that I got to love him so much. I would love to see his name live on and just see people be made aware of child cancer and encourage a healthy living environment. Firstly I want to start and i<3Tonny foundation. I am not sure what that entails. Stay tuned though. You won’t want to miss this. I want to see clean running water come to his village and then I want to see things just grow from there.
The week was filled with several school visits. We went to two separate primary schools- some that I had never visited before. We got to lead praise and worship, scripture, and a fun game. We also brought a soccer ball as a gift to share with the school. We tried to teach them how to play freeze tag there were probably 175 kids (I am horrible at guestimating and anyone here could tell you that was probably the actual number) that’s what it felt like to me. This is the same school that Tonnys’s younger brother, Kenneth, attends. We got to see him and give him some love. As we drove away the kids ran…I mean RAN after the van. For a long time. Waving and saying goodbye to the mzungus.
I got to go to court this week. It was very interesting. I have never sat in on trial. Not even in the states. It was very interesting. All the criminals were just seated on the benches right next to us. No hand cuffs or anything. Just a couple guards sitting with them. It was a simple day and the air rustled was so soft and quiet. There were so many people there and yet it was so quiet.
Saturday we got to visit Christines home…finally. It was adorable and I would LOVE  to get a place just like it or maybe even the one right next to it if I end up staying longer than two years. We just spent time fellowshipping together and enjoying eachothers company. She made a us a huge lunch and she knows all of my favorites so it is easy to say that I was totally STUFFED! We went to Watoto in the evening and heard a beautiful message on loving your country and just having pride for the place that God has allowed you to live. I love church. I always leave feeling completely encouraged and blessed. Just reenergized for the week.
We have had a lot of office days in these past couple of weeks. We just had a 2015 budget day and went through month by month and got to be a part of all the planning and implementing ideas for next year. Lets just say it was a long day. J
 Rwanda 2014
Thursday evening we hopped on a bus around 4:30 pm and away we went. We got to sit in the seats right behind the driver. it was awesome. We had lots of snacks and we were ready to go. Porsche, Victor, and myself went. I was so nervous to make it to the boarder I am always nervous they are going to kick me out of the country and never invite me to return again. I was anticipating it the whole way. When we got to the boarder I realized I had left my jacket at home—it was FREEZING. There is an exit office and then you have to walk like a ½ mile in the cold to the entrance to Rwanda office. It is super dark outside and people that are trying to get your attention and to get you to exchange your money (and probably cheating you). I thought this was weird they have people that sit along the way and just make sure that you  are going where you are supposed to. One group of guys saw that we were taking in a couple grocery sacks that were carrying our snacks and things. They made us throw them away and buy paper bags. Rwanda doesn’t allow plastic bag into their country. They have two reasons: they think it clutters the streets and they want to be more environmentally responsible. Good for them. Just thought that was a strange thing that we couldn’t bring them across the border. When we got to the entrance office we had to go over to a doctor and get our temperature taken just to make sure that we didn’t have Ebola or a temperature of any kind. I was cleared in case you are wondering. I always try to be overly friendly so they don’t take too much time staring at my passport and considering throwing me out of the country. I don’t know why the immigration office intimidates me so much. After Porsche and I went through the line the guys asked Victor how he could get one of us. This after the fact that he asked me if I was in high school. Total creep. He also asked me what I was doing in Africa and why I didn’t miss my home and my family.  After the boarder we started making our way into the city of a thousand hills….that is not even an exaggeration. Some very windy roads. I thought I might be sick. We made it to the bus park about half past two in the morning.  As everyone quickly grabbed their things and exited the bus I looked at Porsche and Victor. We all exchanged the same look. Where on earth are we going to go this early in the morning? Somehow we had the intention of arriving at about half past six in the morning which was obviously not the case. As one of the last conductors was getting ready to leave the bus and he looked at us and said you Mzungus should just stay on the bus because if you get off the will take you. That was enough for me. So we curled up with our bags underneath our arms and fell asleep several times in the night I heard people knocking on the door and trying to open it but it had been locked. I totally freaked myself out! Before our bus set off in Kampala they opened with a word of prayer. This is something that you would NEVER hear in the states. Starting a journey by praying together. I LOVE Africa. The bus driver came back to the bus around six in the morning to check in on the bus and found us sleeping there. He started talking to us and just asking us about what we were doing in Rwanda and then asked if we had a place to go shower and just freshen up. He offered to let us get ready in the hotel room that the bus company rents out for all the drivers/ conductors. We went. The bathroom was disgusting- it was obvious that only men lived there. The sink and the toilet were broken and just not taken care of at all. Victor and Thomas (our bus driver) went and got us water from the pump and a basin and we got to start our day fresh. He shared with us his life. That he has been driving buses for 8 years and he is from Kenya and that he hasn’t seen his family for over a year because he gets no leave of absence. I don’t know what we would have done without him, he took our bags and kept them at the bus office because he knew we weren’t getting picked up until later in the evening and that we were just going to do some site seeing. Best customer care service I had ever encountered. Porsche wanted to get some airtime for her cell phone so that we could call our host and let her know we had arrived safely. She had to work for the day so she was going to come get us when she got off. We went to the MTN phone store to buy a new SIM and we met some incredible young people and we told them what we were doing and we wanted some tips on where to go. They gave us a whole list filled with numbers just in case we got stuck anywhere and they gave us the prices of what things should cost. It was such a God send. Even though it was only like 10 am we had already met so many incredible people and I really don’t think we could have had any better help.
We headed over to the genocide museum. The resting place for 250,000 victims from the 1994 genocide in Kigali. It was very surreal and a very educational museum. Lots of artefacts and testimony of what happened and how it has affected people’s lives even up until today.  Clothing of people who were buried alive in, skulls with head trauma and bullet holes, and just story after story. There is one story that really sticks out in my mind. There was a big church in Kigali that many people were trying to hide and find refuge in and the pastor of the church was the one that gave the orders to a bulldozer outside to take down the church with all the people in it. Just the devastation that the genocide brought just goes beyond what my heart can reach. We walked through the childrens wing and it had photo after photo that family members had brought in and then a short bio about some of the children including their last words and how they were dead. Not only were these innocent people being killed but they were  tortured. Many people “hacked by machetes” It is just hard to imagine. Later that day we headed up to a big park called Juru Park that looked over all of Kigali. As we stood there we just imagined all the devastation that hit this place twenty years ago and what it would have been like to be standing up there when everything was going on.
That evening when we got to the home we were staying in we got to share our hearts and our vision with the family. John and Gladyis they both are pastors at a village church on the top of mount Kigali. They have four girls and then have taken in two young girls to be maids and to give them a small income at the end of each month. It felt like home immediately. Such a sweet family and it was a blessing to get to be a part of their lives and I cannot wait to go back soon!
We got to see a couple of local markets and just sight see around the city. It was a beautiful city. I am so thankful for the time I got there. I know that God is going to take me back to that place again sometime soon. Even though I love travelling and I love new experiences… I still love coming home to Uganda. I missed this place. I missed the people. The relationships I have with this team are just beyond words and I am so thankful for the family I have here. I know that God works all things together perfectly. I get to be a small part of that. I see the fruit that he is producing in people’s lives around me and it fills my heart with so much joy.
Please continue to pray for the work that the Lord is doing here. That his name would be praised in every aspect of this ministry. That we would be able to have uncontainable contentment. That we would seek God first for new joy every morning. To thank him for the little things. To find our strength in his arms and to die daily to ourselves.
***Also I think I am having allergies. I have these itchy red bumps all over accompanied with some sneezing that makes me feel like my head is going to pop. We are headed to the village this week. I am hopeful that it will clear up.