Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A.W. Tozer says...

“…faith is not a once-done act,
but a continuous gaze of the heart at the Triune God.
Believing, then, is directing the heart’s attention to Jesus.
It is lifting up the mind to ‘Behold the Lamb of God…’

Faith is the least self-regarding of the virtues…
Like the eye which sees everything in front of it and never sees itself,
faith is occupied with the Object upon which it rests
and pays no attention to itself at all.
While we are looking to God we do not see ourselves
—blessed riddance.”

Monday, May 21, 2012

Field Trip

I've found that often Westerners tend to have a very romanticized, National Geographic influenced idea of what Africa is like and what it must be like to live there. While there are certainly parts of Africa that meet those expectations, we're so blessed in Mbarara to have (fairly) consistent electricity and running water. We live in comfortable homes, and many families own microwaves and even have cable television. Often I don't feel like we're living in Africa, but then something will happen to remind me that I really am far from my Midwestern homeland.

On Friday, the Skinner family, Kelsea, and I took a field trip to Lake Mburo National Park.
Yes, we went on a safari drive and boat ride for a school field trip!

This incredible opportunity doesn't exist in the U.S. Even seeing animals in nationally renowned zoos doesn't quite compare to seeing them in their natural habitat.

Although it poured nearly every morning last week, the weather was perfect for us on Friday! It was evident, though, that there had been a lot of rain recently. Before getting to the park's main gate, we encountered quite a few very large streams flowing across the road. One looked especially treacherous, but after assessing the situation and getting some advice from a boda driver, Joel successfully got us across! At that moment, Dara and Dade declared it to be the best field trip ever! And we hadn't even made it to the park yet.

Once inside the park, we spent the morning driving around spotting all kinds of animals. There's a family of lions that live at Lake Mburo and a few leopards have been spotted recently, but they're seen very rarely and must've been hiding far from the main roads while we were there. However, we did see vervet monkeys, baboons, warthogs, impala, kob, water buffalo, zebra, hippos, crocodiles, mongeese, various breeds of antelope, and topis.


Uganda is one of the top places in the world for bird-watching, so we also saw some beautiful birds like these fish eagles and a gorgeous malachite kingfisher.

Before our boat ride, we had a picnic lunch near the lake. There were some warthogs grazing nearby (Did you know they eat kneeling down?), but they were preoccupied with eating and didn't seem to mind our presence. Suddenly, one must've decided our lunch was better than his, and slowly but steadily started walking towards the vehicle. Dara dashed up to the roof rack while Kelsea, Dade, and I took cover inside the car. Joel and Jill braved the confrontational pig from the tailgate. I was amazed at how close he got and how long he stuck around! Eventually he gave up after realizing we weren't about to share with him.

It was great to have a purely fun day with our wonderful students and to experience a thrill of living in Uganda with them! Dara is passionate and knowledgeable about animals, so going on safari with her is like having a personal tour guide. And if you're lucky enough to get one of Dade's tours of Uganda, you won't soon forget it. "This is dust. Dust is extremely common in Uganda. These holes in the ground are toilets. They are very common in Uganda."

I'm reminded of God's supreme imagination when I see his amazing and funny creations. Two-legged and four-legged...!

I'm also thankful that Joel and Jill have entrusted Dade's education to me this year. I know I've said it before, but it's an honor and joy to be his teacher and friend!

While daily life here tends to have just as much of a normal routine as it does in America, it's days like these that remind me how far from home we really are. And how incredibly blessed we are to have opportunities like this!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Lake Bunyonyi Bound

On Friday morning a group of ten women from the Mbarara missionary community traveled 3 hours south to Lake Bunyonyi (which means "The place of many little birds") for an over-night retreat. This was my first time at the lake, and I was amazed but not surprised by the incredible beauty of our surroundings. I'm constantly in awe of the magnificent landscapes of Uganda.

On Saturday morning, some of us went for a boat ride and enjoyed the cool but sunny weather.

The lake itself has 29 islands; is surrounded by steep, terraced hills; borders Rwanda; and is the second deepest lake in Africa. It's also pictured on the back of the old 5,000 shilling note.

It was a short but lovely time of relaxation, conversation, and laughter with some amazing women who encourage and challenge me in many ways.

On the way home, we made a quick stop at a roadside vegetable stand to buy some inexpensive produce in bulk. One of the women with us, Joanne, has lived in Uganda for 15 years, and knew exactly what to expect. The rest of us had a unique first experience with this drive-through vegetable system!

She pulled the car over on the ride of the road, we locked our doors, and she rolled down her window as vegetable sellers began to swarm the vehicle on all sides. People began tossing vegetables into the car and shouting their prices at us in hopes that we'd buy from them. Fortunately, Joanne was calm and collected and kept the madness under control as much as possible. We came away with lots cauliflower, onions, and carrots for a much better price than we could get in town.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Only in Africa

Only since moving to Uganda have I...
  • seen a family of 5 riding on a motorcycle on their way to church.
  • used an aloe plant from our yard to soothe sunburns.
  • gone for days (or weeks) on end without electricity
  • had a guard dog.
  • bought milk in a box and kept the eggs unrefrigerated.
  • seen goats lying in a series of speed bumps in the middle of the road with traffic flowing around them.
  • had a rain delay for school.
  • seen people carrying anything and everything on their head...a stack of 5 foam, twin-size mattresses; a basket of bananas; a small notebook; a folded piece of cloth; a suitcase; a purse.
  • been able to tell the time by the drumming at a local church down the hill that starts every day at exactly 3pm or by the bats that come pouring out of our attic every evening by 7:15pm.
  • made fresh passion fruit juice. And discovered what a passion fruit is.
  • been on a first-name basis with the grocery store manager.
  • had to yield to large, intimidating herds of cows while walking on the road.
  • ridden on a motorcycle through a herd of cows moving on the road.

Spiny flower mantis:
native to East and South Africa

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

I Love You, Africa

There are a billion reasons to believe in Africa.

While the world shakes a stumbles...
Africa dances to a different beat.

For every bank bailed out...
2 million Africans send money back home.

1 in 5 European club players is African...
and millions more are ready to shine.

As authorities try to tame the Internet...
Africa becomes the most mobile-connected place on the planet.

For every international band trying to sell a song...
5,000 African bands go live.

The world's most admired man is African...
and so is the most beautiful woman.

While the world turns gray...
we live in full color.

...And that is the point in the video where it digresses into Coca-Cola advertising, but it's still really beautifully done and worth watching!