Saturday, February 28, 2009

Count Down

I can't believe it's about to happen. I've been dreaming of this moment for years and it's just a couple of days away!
Since getting the legal documents, life has been amazingly busy. I didn't realize how much I still had to do and how much I had procrastinated. I think the procrastination was due to disappointment but still it was procrastination. This means I'm running around like a mad woman now trying to get everything ready.
However, I love being busy. It brings a sense of accomplishment at the end of each day when I can look back over the day and see what all I got done. Also, it makes me sleep much better. For the last few nights, I've actually slept all the way through the night, something that hasn't happened in quite a long time.
So, the countdown continues to the day when several little people will begin school for the first time in their lives. For the first time in their lives, these young people will be assured of nutritious meals and shoes on their feet and an education that hopefully will change their future circumstances.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Three Brothers

The three boys who are now enrolled in school! What a difference it will make for this family. I know that usually girls are marginalized and not sent to school and much is being done to combat that. But, I don't think that means leaving the boys completely out. These are the future leaders of their families. Going to school and being exposed to the knowledge of the truth of Christ will make such an impact for generations to come.
Notice the two older ones are wearing their brand new school shirts! I wonder how long white stays white on little boys?! And believe me, all three of them are just as mischievous as they look!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Time for Rejoicing!

Today has been a great day, one that I very much needed. The past few weeks have been so discouraging that I really needed God to show me that He sees, still cares and is working on it.
I got word yesterday that someone was going to sponsor one of brothers to one of the boys already being sponsored. There are 3 brothers in the same family and without sponsors won't go to school. The youngest is going to be a student in my school and the older two are going to be in a local school. By faith, this morning I enrolled both of the older boys in the local school. I'm believing that someone will come along to sponsor the 3rd brother. If not, my family just got a little bit bigger. It's always exciting for me to be able to put a child in school. It changes his/her life. That child is given the chance at a much brighter future. (just finished reading an email and someone is going to sponsor the 3rd brother). Oh, how faith works.
Then after leaving the school, I went into town to meet with the attorney. This last month has been a long process of many meetings with him, waiting for him to clean up the mess that another person made. Anyway, this morning he called to tell me that there was good news so I went to this meeting with joy in my heart.
When I got there, he told me that I was the owner of a small non-profit company. I can now begin operating the school. Dreams are turning into a reality! The rest of today is reserved for celebrating. There's several little kids that will be celebrating with me. They'll be starting to school on Monday!
However, after the celebration, I will need to start looking at the next steps of the whole legal process. I now have a small non-profit company but it will need to be upgraded to a non-government organization in order for it apply for permits for other missionaries and of course for all the wonderful tax breaks.
Please keep this ministry in your prayers. It's been a fight to get to this point and not everyone is as excited as I am. Pray against attacks and pray that all will go smoothly over the next few weeks.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sudden Death

A couple of weeks ago he was fine. He was at Bible study with his mom. He was laughing and playing. Then the next week we were all asked to pray for him. Joshua was sick and wasn't getting better.
Joshua was a cute little baby, around 10 months old. He had a head full of curly black hair and a smile that was sure to melt many girls' hearts.
We prayed, but God wanted him to come home. Joshua died last Tuesday night.
The burial was today. For me that is still one of the hardest parts of being here. I find it difficult to bury someone so young. Shouldn't he have outlived me? Wasn't there more to life for him?
However much we may grieve, I still know that he is there with God now, a Father that can love him and take much better care of him than anyone here on earth ever could. And although we grieve on what he may have missed out on life here, I'm sure Joshua is rejoicing in heaven and not thinking at all about what he may have missed here. I'm sure he knows that he is in a much better place. No more slum dwelling. No more hunger. No worries about school fees. No more heartache.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Blocked Road

Several posts back, I wrote about a path/road in my neighborhood that was recently blocked by some idiot. At first the first just put barbed wire across the road. Then when he realized people were just going to crawl through it, he added tree branches.
when that still didn't work, he dug a hole in the middle and planted beans around it. Seriously, why would someone go through that much trouble just to block the road.
The village chief had to be called in to settle the rising disputes. Apparently, I was not the only one annoyed at having to walk the long way around to get to a taxi. So, the result is now a brick wall going up. No one can crawl through it. However, it does look like there is a small space for people to squeeze through if they want to pass that way. That is what the person on the other end of the road did, left a tiny space. Some people use it. But, mostly us women don't. Why take the chance on coming upon some thief of rapist just to take a shorter route to the taxi. So, now that the way is completely blocked, I will continue enjoying the longer and more scenic route to the taxi. Scenic being all the cows that the herdsmen like to graze in the field along the route and then there is always the village mosque and all the children to shout bye to!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Awareness of Witchcraft

Everyone knows that witchcraft is rampant in Africa. When I first came here, I was aware that it was here but didn't pay much attention to it. The longer I've stayed, the more I see how it permeates people's lives here.
In most churches there is a fine line between Christianity and witchcraft, meaning that many churches are really cults hiding behind the disguise of being a church. There is one really popular "church" here in the center of town which is known to be a cult. However, many of its members believe it to really be a church. Most of the members are slum dwellers. Many are illiterate and can't read the Bible for themselves so are easily deceived. Plus, add to it the fact of the desperation of their lives and it makes for a really big following. Desperate people will go to any measure to find relief.
This church is known to have many healings, deliverances, and prayers to be answered. However, in my opinion, the prayers and the methods to get things answered are a little bizarre. However, for safety reasons, I won't go into a lot of the details.
Then there is the issue of blatant witchcraft, which in recent months, seems to be in the daily news. It seems almost daily there is an article in the newspaper about something that has happened: child sacrifice, rituals, angry mobs burning shrines, etc.
The rate of child sacrifice has been alarming. In the month of December, there were over 100 children sacrifices. This has prompted many families who can afford it to circumcise their boys or pierce one of their ears and to pierce the ears of girl children. Again, this is for those who can afford to do so. The reason being something about the witch doctors won't sacrifice a child who has already shed blood or has some sort of imperfection (like pierced ears) on the body.
There are also many stories of the wealthy to get wealth will sacrifice someone. This is expecially true for the larger buildings. Rumor has it that most of those buildings have a body or head or the one sacrificed buried under them.
I could go on and on with the stories but really don't want to think about them. It's chilling to imagine that one human being could sacrifice another human being just for the sake of wealth.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Growing Is a Painful Process

From the moment we are conceived, we are growing. Most of that growth can be seen in physical growth. It can be seen in children as they mature with age. But, even us adults don't stop growing and I'm not just talking about the middle age pudge around most waistlines. We keep growing as we keep learning lessons in life.
Some of these lessons are easily learned. Others we keep bumping our heads over and over again until we finally get it.
The last month or so has been a trying time of growth for me. There have been days when I wanted to give up and get out of here. There have been moments when I wanted to scream and hit the nearest person to me. Now, obviously, these were not responses that I could act on and am certainly glad I didn't. But, oh, how I felt like it.
Now after coming through it, hopefully completely on the other side, I can look back and see where there was some growth.
There was some growth in my having to stand up to people. Usually, I just keep quiet and go along so that no one is mad at me. This was a time that I definitely could not do that. It was hard, but I spoke up. Of course, in speaking up I upset someone. I think the person was shocked that I was no longer going to allow him to manipulate me. And of course there is now tension in the relationship. But, I guess that is just another opportunity for growth.
There was growth spiritually. I don't think I've ever prayed this much in my life. Phone calls are expensive to make from here so I can't just pick up the phone any time for advice. Actually, I only called my boss to talk about any of it. So, this left a lot of time talking to God about it and listening to Him. I really felt Him leading me and making things more clear to me. He has really been a great Comforter over the last couple of weeks.
As these next few weeks and months unfold, I'm sure there are going to be many more opportunities to grow. There is much to still be resolved. Thankfully, I'm learning to take things head on instead of pretending that everything is ok when it really isn't.
Also, I'm growing and continuing to learn that the walk as a Christian isn't easy. The enemy is here to fight, not wanting to give up any of his territory. I've realized how much recently I've been stepping on his toes. I'm working in an area where witchcraft and satanic worship are a part of daily life of many. It's an area with many strongholds. For every child that I plant a seed into, I've possibly snatched that child out of his hands. He's certainly not happy and certainly not going to let it be easy for me. I'm praying that God will continue to equip me for the battle and give me the courage to keep moving forward.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Mail Carrier

I love getting mail! And it's even better when it's a package. Yesterday I went to pick up one package at the post office and decided to check my mail box on the way. I had notification that there were two more packages waiting for me. 3 packages!!!!
I don't know what I was thinking. I don't have a car and I had to get those packages home. The wisest thing would have been to pick one up at a time on 3 consecutive days. But, no, I wanted them NOW. I didn't want to have to wait until the next day or the day after to see who they were from or what was in them. So, I went to pick them all up.
The first one that came out was a very large envelope. Not bad. That one would be easy to carry home. The second one was a medium size box and not too heavy. OK, so far no problems. I could manage. The third one was a massive box and really heavy. This should be interesting.
So, I got through all of the customs procedures and actually in a fairly short amount of time and without them opening anything. Then it was time to get the packages out of the post office and all the way home. And it would have been priceless for me to have had my camera with me at the time.
I managed to get them all home without damage but I was quite a sight. I got lots of stares and I'm sure quite a few people were laughing as I passed along the way.
Here it's not uncommon to see a woman carrying things on her head, especially in the villages. Even in town it is common to see a street hawker carrying her products on her head. However, it's not common to see someone with my color of skin carrying something on their head. But, that is exactly what I did. I knew there was no way I was going to carry them all in my arms so I stacked them and put them on my head. Now, I'm not as good at it as the women here are. They don't have to use their hands. I did.
It was much lighter to carry them this way. Apparently the muscles in the neck are very strong. But, like I said, I was quite a sight: a "mzungu" woman walking along with two boxes and a very large envelope on her head. I really wish I had a picture of it.
I made it home and unpacked my packages. Such lovely things were sent. Lots of books and games for the kids. Gifts for one of the boys being sponsored and lots of snacks for me. Thanks so much to those of you who sent the hot Cheetos and Reese's peanut butter candy!!!!! Oh how I've missed them.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Protection in the Delay

It seems things are finally moving forward again, or at least that's what I've been told. I met with the attorney again yesterday. He's in the process of sorting out the mess that was previously made while trying to register the school. The mess which wasn't made by him. Thank God for attorneys!
He was very straight forward and laid everything out for me. He told me what had to be undone and what to expect on the way forward. He was also very direct in how to go about working with certain people.
I was shocked and some of the information he shared with me but very grateful that it came to light now rather than later. God really knows how to protect us. I was very frustrated and disappointed with the delay in starting the school but am so thankful now that it was delayed. I really think God's hand was in it, showing me some things that needed to be seen clearly before the beginning. If they had come to be known later, it could have been much worse.
So, on a more cheerful note, he thinks things will be completed soon. I should have all the paperwork in my hand LEGALLY by the end of this week.
For those of you that read this blog, please pray for me over the next few weeks regarding some decisions that need to be made:
- regarding the school
-regarding work relationship issues that need to be dealt with- pray that they will be handled with wisdom and discernment and that relationships will remain intact
-protection for me- the last month I've really felt the enemy working around me.

Monday, February 16, 2009


I'm really disappointed. I got news about one of the girls that went to the school where I worked last year. This was a child that I really enjoyed working with. She had some problems but nothing that was too major. I really thought she was going to make it.
This young lady reminded me in so many ways of myself. I could hear what she was going to say or know how she was going to respond before any words came out of her mouth. This young lady has so much potential. She's bright, all advanced classes but life has thrown here more than enough curve balls.
She had the chance to be adopted last year and the family changed their mind. She went back into foster care and then another family wanted to adopt her. She went to live with them and things seemed to be going well. Her grades were staying up and she was making more friends. When I called the school, they always let me talk to her and she always sounded happy.
What went wrong? A couple of weeks ago, she decided that she no longer wanted to stay with the family. She could give no real reason.
I think it was fear. The fear of loving and to be loved. What if she opened up her heart and let them in and they let her down? What if she got hurt again? What if they rejected her? So many what ifs.
I've known all of these what ifs and still they challenge me. I have to constantly consciously think about how to handle different relationships. I tend to want to run before letting anyone too close. I don't want to be let down, hurt or rejected. I still keep a sort of wall around me that few people are allowed to penetrate.
But, the older I've gotten, I've learned that some of these things are out of our control. You can keep people out, but you still will get hurt.
But, to a teenage girl, that thought isn't a reality. The number one priorities are self-protection and self-preservation.
I wonder why adults can't see the why of her actions. Why didn't they fight harder? She has now been moved to another family and removed from the school. Will this child be lost to just repeat the cycle of what landed her in the system in the first place?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

AAAHHHH....... RATS!!!!

So, at the beginning of January I moved into a new apartment which, by the way, is still under construction. The carpenters haven't touched my apartment in the last couple of weeks so it looks like it will be a while before I have a completed apartment. Oh well, I guess I'm learning the art of waiting.
Along with the construction not being done, there are some unwanted tenants. Rats! These ones are bigger than the ones in the last place and they still don't pay rent.
Last weekend I was with a friend eating a snack in the sitting room when across the room I noticed some small pellets. I had just swept and mopped that morning so there shouldn't have been anything there. I looked closer and found that it was the droppings of a rat. Not a small mouse but a good sized rat. Then I also noticed that the door between the sitting room and the kitchen which is usually locked since the kitchen doesn't really exist, was chewed on.
I left to go and buy some rat traps and later that evening came home and entered my bedroom. What did I see? Right there in my bed more evidence of the rat. It or they had left plenty of their droppings all over my nice, clean sheets. Needless to say I was totally disgusted. I removed the sheets and went to get the security guard to help me find it to kill it. We never found it so he told me that rats won't come out in the light so I should just sleep with the light on. I think he was just telling me that to get me to let him go and so that I would actually stay in the house that night.
I did as he said and have continued sleeping with the light on. I don't know if they are really scared of the light or not, but I definitely don't want to wake up in the morning missing any toes. As of now, I have not caught any in any of the many traps set up around the house. It seems they are too smart for that. The next step was to put out poison. That as well doesn't seem to have much impact on them as I am still finding pellets around the house.
I now have a new bed time routine: shower, brush teeth, unmake and remake bed to check for rats and/or evidence of them.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

AIDS All Around

I hate this disease. I hate the fact that it seems to strike people who don't deserve it. I hate the fact that there is so much stigma attached to it. I hate that people die.
It's a disease that has become all too common in my life despite the fact that official statistics say that only 6% of Uganda's population is infected. On the ground, that statistic seems unrealistic. In the slum where I work, more than 6% of the population is infected. A couple of years ago I was with a group who tested 350 people in one area. 320 tested positive. That's more than 6%.
Anyway, it's something that people live with and life goes on. You deal with the sickness and the death and the orphans left behind.
Recently I had a friend tell me that she is positive. She's in her mid-30s and the mother of 3 young girls. She has been faithful to her husband but for whatever reason he chose not to be faithful to her. He got infected and passed it on to her. She found out while pregnant with the last child. Luckily she found out early and was able to not pass it on to the child. However, the middle child was not so lucky. Being that my friend was not able to afford any medical care during that time, she breastfed the baby and unknowingly passed it on.
Another friend that I've been good friends with here for a while was also infected this way by her husband. Her youngest child died from AIDS. Her two older children have already lost their father and will probably soon lose their mother. She's currently battling TB, which is a battle frequently lost by AIDS patients.
Why don't men get a clue? If you want to be unfaithful to your wife, can you at least give her the option of protecting herself from whatever disease you choose to acquire?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

If It Was Easy, It Wouldn't Be Worth It

Over the last few days the song with the words "It wasn't easy, but it was worth it" has kept playing over in my mind. It's amazing to me how much God loved me that He would do something so difficult just to give me a free gift. It definitely wasn't easy for Him but it was so worth it for me.
Now I know starting a school is by no means a good comparison. However, things have been so hard the last few weeks that I think that song has been in my mind to give me encouragement. The process is definitely not an easy one for me but in the end it will be so worth it. It's discouraging to me, but to those kids that will benefit in the end, it will be so worth it.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Why Is It So Cold?

I thought I had left winter behind! The last two weeks have been so cold here. I've rarely moved out of the house in the morning or evening without a jacket. It has rained almost every day too!
When I left Little Rock, I was too happy to be leaving behind the gray winters. Now I'm experiencing a "gray winter" in Uganda. It's unusual, as this is usually the end of the dry season and usually one of the hottest times of the year. But, due to global warming, everyone keeps telling me that the seasons are changing and this is just an odd year.
So odd that I can't bear to take cold showers right now. I don't have a water heater in my house and never have here but normally the cold showers are a welcome relief to the dust and the heat of the day. But, when the rain started, I discovered that in my new house this is not going to be possible. I live on the 4th floor, meaning there is more wind and is a bit cooler than the ground floor. Plus the water tanks that hold the water are on the roof above me and it's even colder up there. The first cold shower I took when the rain started, I thought someone had poured ice water on me. It was so cold it took my breath away.
Now since there is not water heater and I still don't have a kitchen to boil water, my option was to buy an electric water kettle to heat the water. Oh the joys of bathing out of a bucket!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

I Can't Please Everyone

This is another struggle for me. I want everyone to be happy. I don't want to annoy anyone or for people to not be happy with me. I was made even more aware of my tendency to be a people pleaser last week while going through some things. I couldn't stand the thought of someone being disappointed or angry at me, even when in my heart I knew I was making the right decision.
Even in the project that I am working on here in Uganda, I find it difficult to keep everyone happy. I have about 20 children that are currently sponsored but there are thousands more that need help. Every day, someone asks me to help them to take their child to school. It's heartbreaking because I really do want to help them all. But, sources are limited and I don't want to take on more than I can budget for. This means that people are left thinking that possibly I am just being mean or unwilling to help them. It means that I'm left struggling with how to keep everyone happy and it's impossible. As much as I want to help everyone, I just can't and it is so difficult to try to explain why. People here assume that all Americans are wealthy so they can't understand why I would say that there is not money.
I'm praying that God will help me to continue growing in this area. I can see how He allowed me to grow last week through standing up to someone even though that meant some tension in the relationship. I'm thankful that the relationship remained in tact and that we are working through the issues instead of ignoring each other.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Faith Is Not an Easy Walk

It's very tempting for me to expect life to go smoothly just because I'm a Christian. I forget that there are at times trials and persecutions. Last week was one of those weeks. I felt like I was getting my butt kicked. I felt like I was going to totally lose it. On more than one occasion, I felt like giving up and going home. I know that would not have been the godly reaction, but it sure was tempting.
Although the week was hard, God used it to help me see some things more clearly. Although all the delays are frustrating, He was able to show me that they are for the better and they may not be as long as I first thought they would be.
This week is much better but last week left a lot of things to be reflected on. Why do I struggle so much with trusting God? Why do I struggle to allow Him to be the cornerstone of my life? Why do I let Him in to some areas of my life and keep Him out of others?
When I begin to struggle with these questions, I start questioning if I am really worthy to be a missionary? Now I know that God deals with each of us as individuals and I shouldn't compare myself to others, but sometimes I can't help but look at other missionaries and the looking at myself. It seems they have themselves so together and I'm constantly trying to hold on to my sanity. I know this is not true because when we get together and talk about what is really going on, I realize that all of us are struggling in one area or another.
One missionary that I talked to last week in one of those moments that I wanted to take off and leave told me that she, as well, has those moments. Her advice was to make sure I keep bringing myself back to God's truth. He knows that even though I am a missionary, that I will have questions. He knows the condition of my heart. But, best of all He uses every circumstance to bring Himself glory and to bring what is best for me. Sometimes we need to struggle through an issue in order to see the truth more clearly.
And in the midst of all the frustration and tears of last week, God in His mercy gave me a ray of hope to keep me going. I've been praying for months for my work permit to go through and finally on Friday afternoon I got the call. It was approved and for the maximum number of years. So, they are going to back date it to the date of application but that still leaves me until mid 2011 before I have to apply again!