Thursday, January 23, 2014

Alternative Care

"We don't have an orphan crisis in Uganda... 
We have a family protection and child protection crisis." 
--Mark Riley, consultant for Alternative Care Initiatives

I'm so encouraged by the recent shift in people's opinions about the best way to care for vulnerable and orphaned children around the world. There are so many orphanages in Uganda as it has become the default solution for children separated from their parents. In recent years many people have started to understand that institutionalizing children is not the best or only answer for children separated from their immediate family unit.

The following video was made for the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development (a Ugandan government branch) about the ten Alternative Care Workshops that took place across Uganda. It's exciting to see directors of orphanages (more commonly known as "babies homes") begin to understand and advocate for these alternative care solutions, like resettlement, foster care, and local adoption. It does my heart good to hear those in positions of influence and authority say,
"I want to see the managers of children's institutions
being allies to this alternative care framework 
so that children can grow up in families."

I do believe we're on to something good here, Uganda...

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Local Flavor

The marketing of products in Uganda is a very interesting thing. As times are changing and culture is becoming more Westernized, new products are coming in all the time. Though many are made in East Africa, there are also lots of products imported from Asia. Sometimes the slogans or branding used for these products are simply lost in translation. Sometimes it's a great play on words. Most times it's just really confusing and amusing.

Yesterday I saw an ironing board, and its marketing slogan was "every description ironing board." I must admit, it was a very all-encompassing choice. It leaves some questions, but don't worry about that.

There's a restaurant in town whose motto is "have that meal."'s not very descriptive, but it's safe.

Here are a few more local products and slogans you might not find elsewhere:

What exactly makes this specific to sandwiches?

This description really puts the pressure on... "No room for error"

Who needs minty fresh when you can have salt & lemon?

"perfumed mouth whitening" -- this raises some questions

I don't know what makes this so American 
because we do not call it "desiccated coconut."

Just. No. There's no excuse for this.

How eloquent.

Not Tonight Honey....

They actually do taste... nice. 

It seems fancy until you say it out loud. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Simply to Speak Your Name is Praise

I'm fascinated by an ancient form of prayer called "breath prayer" or the "Jesus prayer," which dates back to possibly the fifth century. It's simply a prayer repeated to the rhythm of your breath, in and out. Though any words can be spoken in a breath prayer, the traditional words were "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner." The prayer was eventually shortened to "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy" or simply "Jesus, mercy."

The purpose of this type of prayer is to keep our mind focused on Christ throughout the day. A short prayer, corresponding to our breath, invites us to "pray without ceasing." We breathe continually, so let's pray continually.

The idea that breath can be prayer... It couldn't be more biblical.
Our breath, our prayers, are the name of God Himself after all.

Let me explain. Or, rather, I'll let the rabbi explain:
“The letters of the name of God in Hebrew… are infrequently pronounced Yahweh. But in truth they are inutterable…. 
This word {YHWH} is the sound of breathing. 
The holiest name in the world, the Name of Creator, is the sound of your own breathing. That these letters are unpronounceable is no accident. Just as it is no accident that they are also the root letters of the Hebrew verb ‘to be’… God’s name is name of Being itself.” 
~Rabbi Lawrence Kushner 

To correctly pronounce the consonants, YHWH, doesn't allow you to close your lips or use your tongue.
This is no mistake.
It imitates the sound of inhalation and exhalation.
The sacred name cannot be spoken. It can only be breathed. 



Humanity was created from the very breath of God. A pile of dust, filled with the life-giving pneuma, became man.

And then, one by one, we each entered creation. We inhaled life, experiencing the cold, bright reality of this world for the first time. And then, because we are made in His image, the first word any of us ever spoke was the name of God. Exhale.

We breathe in. He gives us life.
We breathe out, the simplest prayer of gratitude. The most basic form of praise.

Breath. Life. Praise. The cyclical ventilation of the soul.
This is praying without ceasing.

A name too holy to voice. It can only be breathed.

So keep breathing.
Keep praying.
And keep praising

"Hallelujah! Name above all. 
Simply to speak Your name is praise."
"Rising Sun," All Sons & Daughters

Thursday, January 2, 2014


"The Gospel isn't a one time message for the unbeliever but the constant miracle for the imperfect...

The Gospel isn't just the hope of the unsaved-- the Gospel is the very heart of the already saved...

The Gospel isn't only what we believe in-- because the Gospel is ultimately what we. live. out."

-- Ann Voskamp