Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Sipi Falls Fills My Heart

From: Mbarara, Uganda To: Sipi
Mbarara to Sipi:
330 miles, a 12 hour drive
Some friends and I recently took a weekend away to travel to Sipi, Uganda, on the eastern border of Uganda, to experience the famous Sipi Falls for ourselves.

I've tried and tried to find the right words to share with you about this experience, but they're just not there. This whole trip was too fun, too relaxing, too encouraging, and too precious to adequately describe. There are some incredible pictures here, thanks to my dear friend, Danielle, that help show the glory and glee encompassed in this weekend away.
Unfortunately, there's no photo to show how my heart is brimming with appreciation for these ladies. There's no video that captures how a soul is moved to worship while standing in awe of creation and life and breath and community.

But I'll do my best.

I started this trip with a five hour drive to Kampala. The next day, after picking up our friends, some pastries and coffee, we traveled another 7 hours to get to Sipi. We were thrilled to finally arrive at Sipi River Lodge, which is a bit of heaven on earth. We five women, representing four nations, are united under one Kingdom cause. But sometimes, when you're working in the midst of dirt and despair or in an office or running a guest house day after day, you need a moment to catch your breath and be reminded of the beauty in this life. That's what this weekend was all about.

What is it about gorgeous, cozy rooms on the river's bank and delicious food shared over lantern-light that can refresh a spirit so thoroughly?

I love to fall asleep with white noise in the background, usually a fan. Now I know that a rushing, roaring waterfall outside my bedroom window is the key to sweet dreams and sound sleep. Bliss! And is there anything quite like opening your front door to see a waterfall first thing in the morning?

Kapsururu Falls, 58 meters

On our second day, we hiked the upper two of the three falls. Eight kilometers, five walking sticks, four hours, and hundreds of photos.

My favorite moment on the hike was standing at the base of this 88 meter waterfall getting drenched and utterly giddy with joy.


Even on the equator with banana plantations one plot over, these maize fields and cows remind me of my Midwest home.

Breathtaking panoramas at two thousand meters.

We saw the sunset on a mountaintop, watched the storm roll in, and saw the last of the three falls, which stands tall at 100 meters.

sunset to the west
waterfalls to the east

We enjoyed slow mornings over locally grown Arabica coffee and late nights under a twinkly dome with the occasional shooting star. We stood in awe of creation and slowed for a moment to appreciate the precious, little things.

We saw rainbows over mountains and rainbows over waterfalls.

Photo: Double rainbow. Forever faithful.

The Lord is abundantly good to us, and he delights in giving His children gifts. I was reminded of this when I got to see my first Ross's Turaco up close and personal. These birds are incredible creatures, like something from a Dr. Seuss book, but I'd yet to see one properly. Now I can say that I've not only seen one, but I've pet one. Yes, He's the giver of all good things.

Best of all were the dear friends to treasure these moments with. The five of us come from four different countries and are involved in very different ministries, but we're united in Christ and in our love for this country. Shared joy is a double joy!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Mothers and Fathers and You

"Mothers love to hold their children close to the upper chest, the crook of the neck...
comforting, protecting, holding. 
Fathers, when they hold their children, are more likely to hold them up against their side, 
supporting their weight on the upturned palm. 
The mother carries the child through the world protecting the child from the world, 
and the father carries the child sort of as a hood ornament...facing out, saying, 
'We're going to encounter this together.'"
-Dr. Kyle Pruett,
Yale Child Study Center researcher and professor of psychiatry at Yale University

football hold baby g



Both perspectives are uniquely and equally important in the life and development of a child. Studies have found that babies as young as six weeks are able to differentiate between maternal and paternal interactions and respond accordingly.

For example, when a mother picks up her six-week-old baby, the baby's eyes begin to close, the shoulders relax, heart and respiratory rates slow and regularize. And when the father picks up the same baby, the baby's eyes open, the neck extends, the shoulders hunch up, and heart and respiratory rates begin to get a little faster. It's great for babies to have both experiences... that sense of, “Ah, here comes Mom. I can relax. She’s gonna soothe me.” And, “Here comes Dad, we’re gonna have a lot of fun, and it’s gonna be stimulating.” 

Both parents have so much to offer their baby. So what about the children of single mothers? How are they accessing those equally important paternal experiences?

I believe that single mothers are able to rise to the occasion and play both "mom" and "dad" in a lot of ways. They can beautifully fill in some of those gaps when they're intentional and aware of their parenting and interactions with their child.

I also believe that the Church is responsible to come alongside single moms and their children. We're meant to live in community, and this is a wonderful opportunity for men and families in the church to step out and become committed to the emotional well-being of these mothers and children. These caring, trusted men don't have to be the biological father of the child in order to view the needs of the child as an obligation. When single mothers are supported in this way, and the Church stands with them, everyone benefits.

The mother is encouraged,
the Church is united,
and the child benefits emotionally, cognitively, behaviorally, and even educationally.

We are the Church. Let's play our part.

Friday, August 8, 2014

The Price is Right

13 tomatoes
2 heads of cauliflower
1 head of broccoli
9 limes
2 eggplants
1 head of lettuce
1 bunch of cilantro
2 mangoes
7 green peppers

all for a total of $6.30

Produce, grown locally, is quite a bargain for us here in Mbarara.

On the other hand, many items that are considered staple goods for some people are extravagantly priced here. They're imported from China, India, Dubai, or the U.S., so they're definitely a luxury item. For example:

$9 - $12 cereal

$4 ketchup

$7 syrups

$5.50 for a small container of (somewhat mushy) grapes

$5 peanut butter

Prices like these are good motivation to learn how to make a homemade version, adapt to the local brands, or go without. For example, this homemade pancake syrup is awesome, and I think this granola is better than store-bought. Links for the recipes below!