Thursday, May 29, 2008

Mixed Feelings

I can hardly believe that tomorrow I will have been in Uganda for two weeeks. In some ways it feels like it's been much longer but in other ways, it feels much shorter. It's been a time of excitement, frustration, feeling homesick, gratefulness of being here, etc. It's amazing that God can allow us to feel all these contrasting feelings all at the same time. But, I know that since He is the Creator of feelings that He will help me to sort them all out and to know what to do with them.
It's been an exciting time of catching up with old friends. It's been great how even though we've been miles apart our friendships have remained as if we had talked every day. This has been true even with the older widows and young ladies that I work with in one of the slums here. Although there is a language barrier and I have not emailed or spoken on the telephone with any of these women, the Holy Spirit has kept our hearts somehow bound together. They have been such an encouragement to me over the last couple of weeks. A hug really can go a long way.
The frustrations have mostly come from the decline in the dollar which has meant that I don't get as many Ugandan shillings per dollar. At the same time, the cost of things here has risen, much like in the rest of the world. This has been especially true of housing. I don't know how many hours I've spent walking I don't know how many miles and knocking on strangers doors looking for a place to rent. Sometimes it's been absolutely ridiculous the places we have looked at and then given outrageous prices for. I'm anxious to find my own place to call home.
And yes, there has been some homesickness. This has been the first time I've ever experienced this and I have know idea why. Perhaps it's that I let my heart open to more people while I was at home this time or perhaps it's because I was home for so long. But, I know I am in the place God wants me and that He will help me to feel more and more at home here. While I've had moments of homesickness, I've also had moments at the other extreme when I've been very grateful to be here. It's such an amazing country. It's physically beautiful and the people are amazingly friendly. Plus the pace of life is so much slower. It's possible to spend time developing real, lasting relationships. I'm also very grateful at the opportunity God has given me to serve Him here. I'm sure it's going to be a time of growth for me and that I am going to learn much through my experiences here, as I always have in the past.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Journey to Uganda

When I started this blog, I had made up my mind to write something at least once a week. Obviously the last few weeks I have failed.
It seemed my last couple of weeks in Little Rock flew by so quickly. There was so much packed into such a little bit of time that it seemed I never had enough time to sit down and write anything here. In fact, many things I intended to get done before leaving never got done. Hopefully I will be able to do some of them from here and thankfully I have wonderful friends in Little Rock that are willing to help get some of the things taken care of for me.
My trip to Uganda seemed to go by quickly in the beginning but as the hours passed they seemed to slow down. My flight from Little Rock to Minneapolis was quick and the time spent in the airport flew by due to the fact that I had friends on the flight who also had hours to spend in the airport so we ended up playing Phase 10, each one of us winning a game.
The flight to Amsterdam was uneventful although I didn't get any sleep. I was sitting next to a pleasant older woman who enjoyed conversing for hours. Thankfully, my layover in Amsterdam was short, just long enough to grab something to eat, brush my teeth and go through security again before boarding the plane to Uganda.
The flight to Uganda was the longest. It seemd that as the excitement built, the minutes started ticking by more slowly. Finally, I landed and have been busy ever since. I immediately began "working" the next day. Along with that comes trying to find a house to live in and to begin getting furniture such as a bed. Oh well. Hopefully, I will be settled in within the next couple of weeks and will be able to communicate more effectively with people in the states as well as update this blog from time to time.
Meanwhile, it has been good to be back here. It's been wonderful catching up with friends and meeting new ones.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

A Message From Nomads

I don't know why I didn't post this before today but I didn't. Possibly I needed time to process through what I heard. I spent the past weekend at Nomads in Oklahoma. It was great in so many ways. I had a much needed break from real life in Little Rock as well as being able to worship, pray and just be around others who are excited about missions and what God is doing in the rest of the world. Plus I got to camp for the entire weekend.

Throughout the weekend we heard many great messages. Each one had an impact that touched my heart. I carried something away from each but one in particular hit me the most.

It was on Saturday morning that Jamie Zumwalt's dad spoke. The title of his message was "Decisions Determine Your Destiny." (at least that was what I wrote down) He had us look at the passage in Deuteronomy 1:19-21. He shared how this was a time when the Israelites looked at their circumstances which made them feel small and insignificant. They chose, for whatever reason, not to look at their possibilities through God. They weren't willing to take a risk and make a decision that would have resulted in a radically different history. What if the spies would have come back with a good report? The history of Israel could have taken a totally different direction. The result was that the Israelites over 20 years of age when they left Egypt wouldn't get to cross the Jordan into the promised land. Their decision determined their destiny.

How does any of this apply to me? As Jamie's dad shared, ALL missionaries have these experiences which are usually driven by fear. It's a time when we look at the circumstances in front of us and think this is way too impossible. For some it's a fear of the unknown of a fear of remaining single. For others it's a fear of not having enough support. But, the question we have to choose to ask ourselves is: Are the risks and the sacrifices worth it?

Right now I'm looking at my circumstances and it seems to me that I'm facing so many giants. I have to constantly remind myself that God is in control. I have to keep looking to God and know that He is bigger than any circumstance that I might face. I have to keep telling myself that He is the source of my everything and I definitely want to make decisions based on what God's destiny is for my life.

Over the last couple of days, I've kept reading back through my notes from this message and each time they bring me comfort. Another thing that Jamie's dad said that stuck with me was that the greater the cause, the greater the cost.