Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Oh the places you'll go!

Today waiting for my flight to board a guy taking a survey asking how many flights I had been on in the last 12 months....  I really had no idea so I guessed 25 but thought since I had a few minutes I would actually see how many from last mid May...

MAY...MKK to HNL for a meeting, HNL to MKK return home
JUNE... MKK to HNL for grad school
JULY... HNL to MKK return from grad school, then MKK to HNL to MKK for a meeting
AUGUST...MKK to HNL ; HNL to OAK to visit Ashley; OAK to SLC to ATL to GSO to visit family
SEPTEMBER. .. RDU to ORD to ATL to RDU disney with Mom, RDU to ... to LHR to EBB
DECEMBER... EBB to Nairobi, KENYA to EBB to visit Stacie and renew visa
MARCH...EBB to ADD to CAI to ADD to EBB to visit Joe and Lori and renew visa
MAY... EBB to DUB to AMS to visit Gerbin and Marjon; AMS to GOT to AMS to visit Marcus; AMS to.... to.... RDU to visit family

So with all of those stops I guess I am at around 28.... hmmm... that is a LOT of flights!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Fun facts

While traveling back to Hawaii to finish grad school... I am taking the scenic route and taking a month to get half way around the world.  So stop number 3 after Dubai and Amsterdam... was Sweden to visit my friend Marcus who lived on Molokai about 8 years ago. 

As much as I enjoy traveling ... I really enjoy spending time with friends in new cities... it gives the local perspective.  So Marcus planned out the few days I was going to be visiting and he had planned to take a road trip from where he lives to Stockholm after church and dinner with his family on Sunday.  Can I also say how much I really enjoy road trips!

Road tripping across Sweden was started with Marcus saying something about "fun fact" ... and then pointing out a spot and making some sort of comment.  It became the catch phrase of the trip and each time it brought smiles and laughter...

So as I have been posting picts on fb I have been putting FUN FACTS with them... here are a few other fun facts I learned along the way..

I knew Ikea was Swedish but we went to the oldest and largest other Ikea matches up to the original in Sweden...

H&M is a Swedish company and we passed their headquarters while in Stockholm

ABBA is a Swedish band and we actually went through the museum in Stockholm.  And I had the privilege of singing on stage with holographic images of ABBA!  Needless to say... I was singing "Dancing Queen" for the rest of the evening.... and had to watch Mamma Mia when we got back to Malin's apartment.

Swedish fish are not from Sweden but there are many other sweets and food that are known for being Swedish delicacies

Pippi Longstocking, Trolls, and Vikings are well known Swedish traditions.

Hanging on the locks refers to waiting by the door for a store or shop to open.

When the King has a public dinner ... it means the public are invited to come and watch the king eat... they are not served.

Fina fisken = nice fish (something nice).... the direct translations of Swedish words to English are sometimes very funny.

Huskvarna where Marcus grew up and where his parents still live is known for its lawn equipment!

Well... at this point I am waiting at the bus station in Jonkoping to go to the airport in Gothenburg.... it has been a really good few days catching up with friends and exploring Sweden.  I am not sure I will ever be able to hear the phrase 'Fun fact' without thinking back to this trip to Sweden!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Religious freedom

As I am sitting on my flight to Dubai... current headlines from the BBC keep going across the screen in front of me and one in particular catches my attention...

"Sudanese women charged with apostasy and sentenced to hang because she converted from Islam and married a Christian man."

This is an unknown to many American Christians that play church and only touch their Bibles on Sunday. The freedom we have to worship however and marry whomever is taken for granted and many throughout the world are willing to be martyred for their faith and the decision to marry outside their family belief system. 

After a recent situation in my own life and making the decision to stand firm on my beliefs... I realized the consequence of doing this in many countries I have recently gone through.  For many friends that grew up in the Islamic belief system it is nearly impossible to change to another belief system without immediately becoming a martyr for their faith.  That is definitely stepping out on FAITH!

And the journey to the other side of the world begins...

After A LOT of emotions over the past 24 hours I am finally sitting in Entebbe waiting to board my flight to Dubai... the first of many stops as I head half way around the world taking the scenic route.

You know it is going to be an emotional exit when saying bye to Sheba (the cat) and Vernicius (our gardener) evoke tears.  I am almost thankful that my staff and the kiddos were not on campus because I am not sure I would have made it out of the village. 

As we were driving to town there was worship music playing... the car was running smoothly... and we actually made good time into the city.  My heart was finally able to calm down and relax as we ran errands and then headed to the airport.  Hannington and I were chatting at lunch about some ideas for the future as well as going through the last 9 months of me being in the village. 

Everything in me needs a respite from the spiritual battle that I have been going through over the past couple of weeks... I can honestly say I am physically, spiritually and emotionally tired.  I see clearer how Job felt after studying this a month or so ago and having gone through the recent trials.  Really praying that these flights are relaxing and that I get some physical rest. 

There is a saying in wrestling... leave it all on the mat.  In this case I can honestly say... I am leaving it all in the village.  There is nothing more I could have done in my 9 months here.  Everyone has their 'should have' thoughts but at this point I could not have done more.  I did exactly what my Father called me to do and I can't focus on anything outside of that.

So on that note... I am going to board my flight... 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A hunting we will go...

There are some things that still catch me off guard living by myself in the village... one is the sound of rushing water and the other is a group of people yelling and screaming.  Well both happened today and this just again showed me that I may have my to do list for the day but God has already ordered my steps. 

The morning started with one of my staff showing up on my door step needing to register her sister which is actually her cousin that was brought to live with her aunt when her parents  died... following that?  Ok... well I find it amusing that they walk up the hill... I hear them coming... I see their shadows from my bedroom window... but the just stand outside my door without saying anything... expecting me to know when they are there.  Find it comical that many of my staff will do this and if I don't come to the door .... they walk away and say... I came and did not find you there! Anyway I went to the window to see what was needed and told them I would walk down in 15 minutes. 

Registered two new children today both without a translator I might add (victory in learning a new language!)... assisted my teachers with scheme books and keys to get in their classrooms to write lesson plans and prep for term 2 that starts Monday... got Irene our seamstress set up to finish the boys uniform shorts only to walk down near noon to find her reading a book...when I asked if she was done she said no the machine broke so I am just waiting...waiting...waiting.  I calmly asked her why she didn't come get me and let me know of the problem... she looked at me like that thought didn't even cross her mind.  Grrr!  Paid her for the uniforms she had finished and sent her on her way. 

I get back up to the houae where I am getting papers ready for tomorrows skype in grad class and I hear one of our workers yelling in my window... Mamma Angela turn off the pump... we have a problem.  And a big problem we did have... lots of water spewing from a cracked fitting on the pipe leading to the water pump in the house.  Several inches of standing water had to be cleaned up after all the water was turned off.  Thankfully the workers jumped into action... turned off the water from the upper tank as well as the main valve leading into the house... and then called Mulongo so that by the time I got around the house to unlock the door there was no longer a geyser of water.  The fittings were found (or jerry rigged) and by early evening I had running water in the house again!  In all of this craziness... I run out the door to find one of the clinic staff just waiting for me...again never did she knock or call my name... just waiting!  She needed reagents that are stored in my icebox so ultimately she had to  wait for a few more minutes!

So I gave Mulongo a walky talky so that I could continue to get paperwork done in the house and got back rolling on it when Nakafero, Maggie, Regina, and Nagawa came up wanting me to teach them how to make a cake... which I had promised when we were finishing my mat.  Since I made cupcakes yesterday... I let them each eat one and then told them I was going to make oatmeal cookies today if they wanted to help me with that...of course they did.  So while they were baking I taught them how to make simple little bracelets and then we sat eating our 'biscuits' and chatting. 

As they were leaving... I heard a lot of screaming and yelling coming from a group of people up the mountain... above the new teacher housing... I asked if someone was playing futbol and they they are hunting... Hunting?  What are they hunting?... oh you know...The usual cobra, wild goats, wild pigs.  I  started laughing and said when we go hunting we are quiet... we want to sneak up on the animal to shoot them.  Cultural lesson for the day... Ugandan's hunt with dogs and spears.  The yelling is to send the dogs to surround the animal and then the 'hunters' spear the animal.  it is a team effort!

So as I am watching Nakafero and her sisters walk down the hill...Mulongo and a couple of my girls are walking up.  Mulongo comes up saying my assistance in needed with a child that is waiting in Mamma V's kitchen... I eventually understand that they want to register the child so I take care of that and spend some time Sandra, Catherine, and Alvin.  (Sandra wanted tonshow me the bracelets she had been working on and to tell me that Regina was sick and couldn't come over!)

As  I am walking home... Seche comes running up... Mamma you want to see the baby goat?  So I followed him to the new goat pin to find mamma goat and her new baby boy.  That explains all the goat noises last night! 

Well as the sun goes down on this day... I am really praying for a non-eventful laat day in the village tomorrow! 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

And they call me mamma!

I am not sure what could be more fitting but to have my last Sunday in the village be Mother's Day! 
Woke up to blue sky and sunshine for the first time in more than a week.  Had made the choice that I was going to enjoy this beautiful day with my little brown eyed cuties.  Had 40+ children show up for children's church and we continued with the story of Abraham and how we are called to remember what God has done for us!

I couldn't help but think of what God has done for me over the past 9 months...

In the time that it normally takes to create one child, God has blessed me with 100+ children that call me Mamma.

In this time I have watched and taught these little ones as they grow with their hearts focused on Jesus and His love.

In this time I have learned what it truly means to see the depths of despair in some of these little lives and to see what overcomers they truly are.

In this time through their hugs, kisses, smiles, and tears I have learned what a mother's heart truly feels like when you watch your children fall down and get hurt... or have to say goodbye to a loved one... or accept Jesus and his gift of salvation... or try something new for the first time!  I also know how it feels to have a little one run to me first in each of these situations.

This may not be how I thought I would end up with children but for today this is what God has blessed me with.  I have the choice to take each little brown eyed cutie into my arms and love on them... or I have the choice to be bitter about not having a child of my own. 

So for this mother's day... whether you have biological children, adopted children, nieces and nephews, friends with children, or children that just show up on your doorstep looking for a mother's s heart.... be blessed and make the time for these gifts from God.  God doesn't work the same in each of our lives... so whether you have children...are single... are barren...have lost a child... or your own mother... YOU ARE LOVED by the King of kings and you are called to love on His children!

Friday, May 9, 2014

All In!

"But you, O LORD, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness." Psalm 86:15

It is early Friday morning here in the village... the last Friday in Uganda.  I woke up to the cat needing out and couldn't go back to sleep with everything running through my head and the rumbling of my tummy.  So I got up.... started breakfast...made a to do list for the day... cleaned up all the dishes from yesterday's cooking for the weekend marathon... and sat down to check messages while I ate breakfast

Had a lengthy email from a precious friend sharing recent messages at her church entitled "all in"... one of the examples was a man sailing to a new land and burning the boat when he reached land so that he couldn't turn back.  There have been moments this week that I have wavered on being "all in"... but after surrendering everything to God and then this reminder... I am ALL IN!

After breakfast, it started raining so I settled into the living room with my Bible, journal, and worship music and I have to say... it is exactly what I needed to be reminded of who God is in my life and why I should be "all in"!

My walk with the Savior is not about a bunch of rules and regulations that make up a religion but all about a relationship with the King of kings.  He is merciful and gracious... slow to anger... abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness... He is GOD! And I am ALL IN!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Going off-roading!

Part of complete surrender is letting everything go... I thought when I blogged about ultimate surrender a day or two ago that I had surrendered....then I had a wake up call!

The past couple of days have been a struggle to say the least.  If I had truly surrendered would it still be such an issue?  I think I had given God my head... my thoughts but not my heart and definitely not everything that was within.

As I was talking with a dear friend, I commented that I just wanted what was normal and easy.  She stated... 'you were not meant to take the easy road'... to which I responded 'off roading is a lot more fun'!

So with all that said... I am going off-roading into the next chapter of my life with the Lord as my driver.

I am leaving my dreams in the dust behind us and giving up my right to having any control while off roading. (God is NOT my co-pilot... and he does not need me to be a back seat driver!)

I am giving up my pride and what direction I think is best. When God opens a path I will ride down it and when one closes... I will do an about face and go off in a other direction.

I have made my list of everything that I have been holding near and dear and I am surrendering them to the foot of the cross.  (I guess the alternative would be to have them snatched out of your hand much like Job did.]

Anybody up for joining me on this off roading adventure into the great unknown?  I have the best, most talented driver that anyone could ask for!

(Song referenced is Lincoln Brewster's "Surrender")

It's a process!

I am sitting here on this rainy morning a week before I am to leave the village.  I have been working onn writing a chapter by chapter devotional of the Old Testament and as I had some time this morning was typing my handwritten notes into the computer.

As I am rereading what I have previously written, I an convicted by what I have written and what the word of God says.  I fall so short.  In my own little writing bubble I can read these chapters and write my commentary or questions of how it should be applied.  However in the real world... my actions struggle to match up with what God asks of us in His word.

So many times... I am like the "friends" in Job that condemn those and offer ungodly advice rather than encouraging and lifting them up in love.

I desire God to create a clean heart within me and renew a right spirit...but in the midst of certain situations my heart is far from being clean and I ignore the prompting of the spirit of what I should be doing.

There are so many times I feel like a white washed tomb...everybody sees the outside as good but what is inside is not so pretty.

I struggle with doing what God has called me to do at times and think my way or the world's way would be better.

It's a battle of the mind and thenheart to stay focused on what he desires verses what I desire.

I wrestle with what the consequences would truly look like if I took mattwrs into my own hands and did things my way instead of waiting on the LORD.

I am far from perfect and why the God of the universe choses to use me is unbeknownst to me.  But I am thankful that he loves me and forgives me even when I am so unworthy.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Ultimate surrender

When I see the beauty of a sunset's glory.
Amazing artistry across the evening sky
When I feel the mystery of a distant galaxy
It awes and humbles me to be loved
By a God so high
What can I do but thank you
What can I do but give my life to You
Hallelujah,  hallelujah
What can I do but praise You,
Everyday make everything I do a hallelujah
A hallelujah, hallelujah
When I hear the story of a God of mercy
who shared humanity and suffered by our side
Of the cross they nailed You to, that could not hold you
You're making all things new
By the power of your risen
Yesterday afternoon I had a young lady come by the house asking for some beads... she missed the lesson and activity from children's church because she had to do chores and wasn't allowed to come to church.  We sat outside and talked about the lesson from the day... about school... about her... and whatever else came up. 
After she left I sat out  watching her walk home and watching the sunset fade across the evening sky.  Watching the crescent moon rise above the horizon... and listen to the birds as they headed back to their nests to settle in for the evening. My heart so filled with emotion... of God's greatness of why he chooses to use me... of what I am going to miss about this place as I head back stateside for the next couple of months... for the great love I have in the God of the universe as well as dear friends all over the world who love me!
What can I do but thank you ... for every good and perfect gift comes from God!
He has given me so much but yet I am humbled by the fact that I am still holding onto things that I refuse to surrender.  What does ultimate surrender look like?  Laying it all at the foot of the cross trusting that He is powerful enough to take care of each situation.
I am convicted by all the things I have yet to fully surrender.  So much of what I hold on to just brings stress and worry.  What would happen if I truly surrendered every thing to God?  May the cry of my heart be...all to Jesus I surrender!

Unequally yoked

The Bible says... "do not be unequally yoked"...

This is not a "rule" to keep us from having fun... it is meant to make life better.  I was recently asked if I would ever consider marrying someone with beliefs that differ from mine.  This got me thinking...

I want to come along side and serve God with my husband.  That is difficult to do when there is not agreement in who you believe God is.

I want to lift up my husband and support him as he follows where the Lord is leading him.  It is difficult enough for me to trust that God is in control at times so if I knew we believed God to have different attributes, this would make marriage more difficult.

I want to be with my husband as a united front when raising our children.  This is also very difficult to do with two people who were raised very differently not to mention when the guidelines of raising children from two faiths differ.

The creator of the universe doesn't put rules or regulations on us to limit our fun but to protect and give us His best!  He is a good Father that wants what is best for his children.  He is also a gentleman that allows us to make our own choices and live with the consequences.

Hair, Hair, Hair!

Here is the much awaited blog on tresses...

Since moving to the village, I have been amazed at how many times my hair has been the topic of conversation.  It all started shortly after I moved in to the apartment and Allen walked in to find me with my head in the sink washing my hair with shampoo.  This is a must for my hair but not something that my dear African friends do but every couple of months and even then they don't use shampoo.  So she inquired what I was doing and why?

Many conversations have revolved around how I get my hair to do that... or which salon I use here... or questions from my staff on can you plait (french braid) my hair like yours?  And for the record I did french braid Allen's hair into pigtails!

On Palm Sunday, my friend Sarah, Alyssa and I were in Masaka at church.  The only three white ladies with everyone else being from Africa. The pastor was preaching on why Jesus had to die... and he brought up the story of the woman pouring the oil/perfume on Jesus' feet and wiping it off with her 'expensive' hair... we white girls thought this was hilarious because we grow our own is not expensive.... the thing of value in the story was supposed to be the oil/perfume!

As I was chatting with Nakafero last night, her mother was inquiring where I got my hair done so this opened the door to a lengthy conversation on my locks!  I explained that my hair grows like this... curls and all...and that the expense for us to get it cut and colored.  I just had it in a ponytail so I took it down and they 'played' with my hair... amazed that it was so soft like a baby's hair.  I then told them how it is well known in my culture to have young girls with really long hair.... they did not believe me so I had to find pictures of some of my former preschoolers with long hair... they also wanted to know why the boys didn't have long hair like the girls.

I inquired about her hair which was  plaited in the local fashion ... she said that she has hers done every 2 months.... it takes all day and a lot of pain to put the plaits with extensions in... then about a month after she goes back to have it touched up.  At two months... she goes back to have the plaits and extensions taken out...which takes 4 to 6 hours.  Then her hair has to 'rest' for 2 weeks before starting the process again.  This entire process costs anywhere from 30,000 to 50,000UGX...which is rather pricey by village standards when one of the mats that Nakafero makes and spends a month making normally sells for 20,000UGX.

Most of our little ones and even teenage girls have their heads shaved to cut down in dirt, bugs, and infection.  I asked Nakafero... why go through this process... why not just shave you head like Nagawa... she laughed and said a woman's beauty is in her hair.

So there you have it ... the scoop on locks in the village!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Baby Story... part two

So like I promised I did get the chance to talk with Nakafero tonight as we finished my mat...

I asked her to list off the things that she had to bring with her to the hospital and here is what she said... clothes for her and baby... basin...jerry can for water...towels/blanket... razor... needle (in case she tears and needs to be stitched)... I stopped her there as I was just absolutely flabbergasted.  I jokingly asked if they supply the doctor to stitch you up?? And yes... there is a medical staff that can stitch you up.

I asked if she already had all of this together in case she went into labor... her response was ... I have lots of time... a woman knows her body.  From the time you start feeling pain until baby comes could be days or even a week and if a woman wants her baby she knows!

Now correct me if I am wrong but some babies come much quicker than that.... right?  And I guess if that happens... baby just comes out wherever you are here...and you have all the supplies with you.  Gives a whole new meaning to be ready in and out of season!

So if you give birth naturally with no complications... you are sent home after 4 hours.  As Nakafero said... there is no reason to sit around at the hospital.   However if you have a c-section because baby won't come out... you can be in the hospital a month or more.

Am I boring you with baby details yet???

No!  Good because there is more... the father of the child normally drops the mom at the hospital and goes about his daily duty.  Sometime the mom's mother will come with her. After the baby is born... the new mother calls the father to announce girl or boy and ask for a ride home.  It is the father's responsibility to name the child.

The mother's siblings are not aunts and uncles but mamas and tatas to this little one.  So soon to be 4 year old Harriet will be known as mama to Nakafero's child. 

With all this said... this entire topic is culturally taboo!  You don't walk up to a pregnant woman and say anything about the baby or her tummy... especially when the woman is not married.  You don't mention anything until the momma is walking around the village with the baby strapped to her back.  Nakafero has been very willing to answer my questions as she has had questions she wants to ask me about where I am from and my hair... but that is a blog for another time... as it is very funny!

Baby Story... village style

If you have seen the documentary called Babies that came out a few years ago... children depending on where they are born are raised very differently.  For a while I have been curious what the birthing process looks like in this village...

Well today after church I was talking to Nakafero who is due to have child in the next couple of weeks by her calculations.  As we were talking I asked how baby is doing and her response was "she is doing well".  I questioned how she knows it is a girl because they don't have ultrasound machines or even how to calculate the exact due date... baby comes when baby is ready!  Nakafero tells me... I just know its a girl.  So time will tell on that one.

To continue with the baby story...village style... we will take a step back before baby.  I grew up with Cabbage Patch Kids... where the story is that these babies come out of a cabbage patch.  Well in the village,  most babies are produced in the matoke (banana) plantation. This is in huge part to the multi generational living in a one room mud or brick hut.  So when in the village be aware of the phrase... lets go to the banana plantation!

As Nakafero and I were talking... I asked her where she was going to have baby and she said in Namrumba which is about 5 km from Busunju.  Unless you live here I realize this makes no sense so here is a more understandable version... you start feeling labor pains and either call a boda (motorbike) driver or start walking the 5km on bumpy dirt roads to Busunju...from there you get a taxi (normally a van the size of an old vw 'bus' that can seat 14 passengers) to take you the next 5 km.  Depending on how quickly you get a boda or a taxi and whether it has been raining this journey of 10km could take an hour or more all while being in labor. 

Sounds like a great way to start off the birthing process.  Not sure what the hospital/clinic in Namrumba is like but normally giving birth in a village clinic requires you to bring everything you need to give birth... from towels to a razor to cut the umbilical cord.  I have also seen cases where you have to bring your own composition book for the attending staff to write out the birth certificate!  The clinics and even most hospitals are not equipped with anything... you even have to bring your own meds or sends someone to the nearby pharmacy to pick up what you need!

Will be spending time with Nakafero this aftenoon working on finishing my mat so I will see if I can get more details of giving birth in the village!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

One hundred people

Just something to think about from Shake hands with the Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire (pg 520-521)...

"If the entire population of the planet is represented by one hundred people,

57 live in Asia
21 in Europe
14 in North and South America and
8 in Africa.

The numbers of Asians and Africans are increasing every year while the number of Europeans and North Americans is decreasing. 

50% of the wealth of the world is in the hands of 6 people... all of whom are American.

70 people are unable to read or write
50 suffer from malnutrition due to insufficient nutrition
35 do not have access to safe drinking water
80 live in sub-standard housing.

Only 1 has a university or college education.

Most of the population of the globe live in substantially different circumstances than those we in the first world take for granted."

One hundred people

Just something to think about from Shake hands with the Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire (pg 520-521)...

"If the entire population of the planet is represented by one hundred people,

57 live in Asia
21 in Europe
14 in North and South America and
8 in Africa.

The numbers of Asians and Africans are increasing every year while the number of Europeans and North Americans is decreasing. 

50% of the wealth of the world is in the hands of 6 people... all of whom are American.

70 people are unable to read or write
50 suffer from malnutrition due to insufficient nutrition
35 do not have access to safe drinking water
80 live in sub-standard housing.

Only 1 has a university or college education.

Most of the population of the globe live in substantially different circumstances than those we in the first world take for granted."