Friday, May 28, 2010


This is Mercy. Mercy joined the Baby Class at my school in October last year. This year she was in Middle Class. From October to the beginning of this school year, we noticed Mercy losing a lot of weight.
Mercy was an orphan. We learned that her father died of AIDS. During the course of the term, Mercy continued to lose weight. She was weak and rarely talked. Myself, her uncle, and her teacher kept encouraging Mercy's grandmother to have Mercy tested for HIV. She continuously refused. I don't know if she was in denial, not wanting to admit there was a problem, or not wanting to face the stigma. Mercy was never tested.
This term started on Monday. Mercy never appeared for school. Yesterday in the afternoon, some relatives came to the school to inform us that Mercy had been admitted in a clinic and was badly off. This morning I got a call. Mercy died during the night.
Mercy probably suffered needlessly all her life. It may not have been HIV. It could have been something else easily treated. Even if HIV, there are free medications available. My prayer is that people won't let stigma stop them from testing their children.
In a staff meeting this afternoon, we have decided that for a child to remain in the school program, they will have to be tested. How many more are there that are infected that it is not yet known, that are being left untreated?
It was really hard to explain to Mercy's class what happened. Jackie is in her class and this is what Jackie told me when she came home. Mercy died. They are going to put her in the soil. Then she's going to go and stay with Jesus. Jesus is really strong.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Clowns Without Borders/Kisenyi Acrobatic Group

Every school break, I try to have some sort of program running at the school. This holiday it's been just the primary school kids along with 4 high school girls. They've been doing sports, choir, arts and crafts, drama, dance, etc.
I also try to have one fun event for them each holiday. This break we were able to be have a combined group: Clowns Without Borders from Sweden and Kisenyi Acrobatic Group from Rwanda come to perform for the kids and the parents/guardians.
I think it definitely will be the highlight from this holiday program. The kids smiled and laughed the whole time.
We watched them perform skits, dances, tumbling, build pyramids, ride a unicycle, juggle, etc. They did an excellent job!
My kids also decided to share with them some of what they have been practicing this break. They recited a poem and sang a song.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mother's Day

Mother's Day has usually been a day of dread for me. Reason being is a long story, which I'd rather not go into on this blog. However, yesterday was a much different Mother's Day.
For the first time, I wasn't focused on my lack of relationship with my mother, but on the relationship I have with the 3 wonderful kids that live with me.
I've enjoyed the last year of being a "mom." I've definitely learned a lot. It's had its ups and downs. I've learned to love more than I ever thought imaginable.
Ups: lots of laughing and shouting daily around the house, hugs and kisses and I love yous before bedtime, more laughing, having a child officially become a teenager, living with a sweet teenager, Jackie losing her first teeth, all three learning to speak English, family nights out to eat........
Downs: Jackie's almost dying of AIDS, Jackie being diagnosed with cancer, chemotherapy, Jackie's mom taking her, Yosam adjusting to a new home......

Throughout all the ups and downs, I've been able to see many blessings. I've never regretted taking in any one of the three children and know that if I had refused on any of them, it would have been me that missed out. It's been a far greater blessing to me to have each one of them that I could ever be to them.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Life as a Missionary is NOT a Romance

The following rant comes after attending a Women's Bible Study today. I got the privilege of sitting down with two other missionary women. Both have been here a comparable amount of time (going on 9 years) as me. It was awesome to be able to honestly share my soul and know that they really "got it."
Because, you see, missionaries are nothing special. We are normal people. We still get down, depressed, excited, annoyed, angry, pissed off, etc.
I loved being able to share with and be encouraged and encouraging to these two beautiful ladies. It's rare that I get to be that transparent as I always feel like my "work" and myself here as a "missionary" are being judged. Like I have a different standard to live up to than others.

It's always very interesting to work with newbies- new full time missionaries or first time short term missionaries. I'm sure I was once there, although don't really remember it, or maybe I was one of the few who had some early reality checks that prevented me from seeing everything through rose colored glasses.
Yes, I am a missionary. However, this title doesn't define me. Actually, I hate it. I don't consider myself a missionary. I'm just me. This happens to be the career I chose, but it isn't all that I am.
Life is still life. It still has its ups and downs, its hills and valleys. The only difference is the location.
I hear these newbies say all the time things like:
"Oh, it must be so much fun living here."
"I'm going to come back here and save all these children."
"This is the best country in the world. The people are poor but they're happy."
And the list could go on and on. I could also rant on and on in response but here's just the little tip of the iceberg.
In living anywhere, you are living life. No place is always fun. Neither is any place always boring. There's good and bad in everything. Life as a missionary can be lonely at times. It can be heart wrenching at times. At other times, it's very full and very rewarding. But, these things are true of any job a person could have.
Yes, there are new experiences, new things to see, new things to taste, etc. But, those things quickly become normal parts of your life. Some of them will even grow to get on your nerves. Others you will even come to hate. Same as living in the country of your birth.
Then there is that feeling of living in a fish bowl. Everyone is looking at you and in some ways you will feel like you are constantly being judged. Supporters are looking at you to make sure you are really "holy" enough. Churches will wonder if you are really qualified enough. Those living around you will set up apart as the one with all the answers. You will begin to feel like you don't get to really live your life, but that you are just trying to live up to other's expectations or not mess up and become a fool. Or worse yet, get pulled off of the field you love so much because your sin is "bigger" than a non-missionary's sin (because remember, you are supposed to have it all together).
Yet, you are a person just like any other person. You will never be "holy" enough. Sin will always be a part of your life, a dragon waiting to cut you down. You will never be qualified enough. No amount of skill or training you have will prepare you for living life. It might make some things easier, but you're still not going to get it all right.
And you will never be able to fix everything. All the problems around you will still be all the problems around you. The little that you are able to do will be like a speck of sand sitting on the ocean floor, insignificant. It might impact one life, but look around you, poverty and hardships will still be there. You will not be able to solve every problem. You will not be able to solve every child. There will still be children not attending school. Children will still die of preventable diseases. Children will still sleep hungry. Parents will still be drunkards. Families will still lose their homes. So, to say you will come back and save all these children, is setting yourself up for failure and disappointment. It just won't happen.
And yes, people know how to put a smile on their faces, show you hospitality, while you are here. But, don't think for a moment that they are happy in their poverty. Don't think that they find happiness in watching their children slowly starve to death, die of malaria because there's no money for the medicine or the clinic has run out, or not be able to attend school. The longer you live in a poverty stricken area, you will learn that it's not that these people are happy in their circumstances. They've just learned to bear it and learned to not show everyone their problems. But, enter into the heart of the community, and you will begin to hear the stories of sorrow, the heartache. You will find the initial joy you felt slowly turns to grief and pain as these people you love show you their heart, not just the smile on their face.

Remember, being a missionary doesn't define me. It's not who I am. It's the career I have chosen (or some would say that I have been called to- if you have to "holify" it). I am a normal person- with my sin, my mess ups, my attitude, my joys, my sorrows, my cross to bear.........

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Living Life to the Fullest

Yes, I am a somewhat quiet person (until you get to know me, then I can be quite talkative). People seem to think that quiet equates to stupid, reserved in actions, etc. However, I've always been somewhat nomadic and a bit of a risk taker, never wanting to live my life inside of a box. I think I've always been sort of weird, different from others.
I don't want to live life with regrets, what ifs, wondering what would have happened if only..... I've always lived life thinking I won't know unless I try. That doesn't mean I don't count the cost of what if I fail. The experiences of life, the failures and the triumphs, are what makes up the story of our life. Each experience, each failure, each triumph is a lesson learned.
When I left life in the states and started life in Uganda, most people thought I was crazy or had completely lost my mind. I saw it as following what my heart was leading. Most thought it would never work out. I wouldn't know unless I tried it. Each step along the way, people have asked when are you coming back, when are you giving up, how long are you going to do this, what future in it is there for you, etc. But, to me, my life is an amazing story. I'm getting to learn, experience, and see things that most people will never even dream of.
I never want to wake up one day and realize my life is almost over and I never really lived it. I don't want to look back on a life lived in a box, lived in fear, lived in missed opportunities. I don't want to look back on a life of "I wish I would have."
I want to look back on a life lived on "Oh my gosh!" moments. I want to be able to look back on a life that was truly lived, and lived to the fullest.
Will there be regrets? Yes. Will there be mistakes? Yes. Will there be bumps and bruises along the way? Yes. Will there be heartaches? Yes. But, those things will be reminders that I've really LIVED life. Will there be pain along the way? Yes. But, that makes the good times all the more joyful!
Life is about the experiences, taking the opportunities God gives us, the good, the bad, the joy, and the sorrow. It's the memories, the story of our lives. It's about dreaming and setting out to let those dreams come true. It's about letting life be all that it can be!