Saturday, November 29, 2014

Thanks Giving

I'm thankful when I'm sweeping up dirt and sand from the floors of my apartment for the fourth time this week
because it means there has been plenty of coming and going.

I'm thankful when, one by one, all my plans for the day get canceled
because it means I have an opportunity to practice flexibility.

I'm thankful when power goes out
because it means I have power in the first place.

I'm thankful when I'm walking around town on the hot, sweaty days
because it means I am healthy enough to do so.

I'm thankful when it's cool and rainy, even on laundry day,
because it means people's crops are growing and they won't go hungry this season.

I'm thankful when I have to call our landlord for the fifth time this week because my water keeps going out
because it means I have a landlord who cares to help.

I'm thankful when I have a pile of dirty dishes to wash
because it means I have more than enough food and beautiful community to share with.

I'm thankful when I can sit on the floor and cry with a friend whose heart is breaking
because it means our friendship is genuine.

I'm thankful when I'm wiping up baby pee from the living room floor
because it means I'm graced with the presence of babies and mamas in my home.

I'm thankful when I'm trekking up and down the hills of Mbarara
because it means there are people I'm on my way to see.

I'm thankful when my backside goes numb from sitting at church for hours on end
because it means God called me to a place where we can worship freely and openly.

I'm thankful when my clothes are all stretched out and faded
because it means someone is helping with the hand-washing.

I'm thankful when my cooking gas runs out in the middle of baking
because it means I can give my boda driver some more business.


Saturday, November 22, 2014


On Sunday, we celebrated one year of life for Abrielle and Sofy.

Abrielle's birthday was on November 5th, and Sofy's is on December 17th. Ruth is moving soon, and we wanted a chance to celebrate together. So we did! What's better than celebrating one baby? Celebrating two, of course!

Sofia: then and now

Abrielle: then and now

We gathered for a little birthday party.

We ate snacks. Pineapple, watermelon, hard boiled eggs, popcorn, groundnuts, samosas, and lemonade.

We sang and enjoyed a gorgeous cake (made by my teammate, Emily, who owned a cake business back home).

We opened presents.

We delighted in friendship and laughter.

We celebrated the lives of these two darling girls and thanked God for his goodness and protection over them.

But really I want to celebrate Sarah and Ruth. This is their first anniversary of becoming mothers, and that's no small accomplishment! It's not something to be overlooked in light of really (really) cute babies.

Over the past year, I've had the privilege and joy of watching Ruth and Sarah embrace motherhood. It hasn't been easy, but they have been faithful.
There have been late nights and early mornings.
Countless loads of laundry washed by hand.
Trips to the medical clinic and hospital, routine and unexpected.
They've learned about nutritious foods and offering healthy choices that support baby's development.
They've been asked questions by neighbors and relatives, and they're able to explain why they're doing some things differently than culture expects.
They are empowered to advocate for their daughters and make informed choices for them.

More importantly, Ruth and Sarah have been laying down a strong foundation for Abrielle and Sofy.
I've seen the hard work and love they've poured into their daughters knowing that these years matter.

We've talked a lot about the importance of early childhood and how these are the days, months, and years to be training children in righteousness. Discipleship of children doesn't start after their first birthday. It doesn't start when they begin school or when they know how to argue with you. It's starts at the beginning of life.

Just like a strong foundation is necessary for the structural integrity of a house, the early years of child development are a critical time of preparation. Once the house is built, we don't see the foundation anymore, but we know that it's there holding everything together. Similarly, the tasks of early development often go unnoticed by others. Every developmental milestone reached, every benchmark attained points back to a loving caregiver who nurtures and encourages.

Those who are unable to see the importance of the foundation built in early years are eager to rush on to more visible, outward skills. But a house isn't simply set down on top of a foundation. Rather, the house grows up out of it. When intentionality and diligence are poured into the early years of childhood, a deep, solid foundation is built, and a child is given roots that help her stand firm in later years.

Ruth and Sarah have been faithful in gentle training, patient repetition, age-appropriate explanations, and viewing their daughters' hearts in light of God's Word. These things, this teaching and showing children what it looks like to love God and glorify Him with our lives, are incredibly difficult yet eternally important. Yes, let's celebrate these little girls that we've been gifted! Let's also celebrate their moms who daily pour out themselves for their daughters and point them to Jesus.

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 
These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.
 Impress them on your children. 
Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, 
when you lie down and when you get up. 
Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 
Write them on the doorframes of your houses 
and on your gates.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Get The Picture

Though English is the official language of Uganda, it's most people's second, third, fourth, or even fifth language. And that's if they even speak it at all. Ugandan English, or Uglish, as I like to call it, is its very own version of the English language.

There are some familiar English words spoken here, but when used in a Ugandan context, they mean something completely different. Multi-cultural homonyms, if you will. Here are some examples:

cornflower (US)

cornflower (UG)

push (US)

 push (UG)

snap (US)

snap (UG)

pants (US)

pants (UG) ... to be fair, this is British-English

Saloon (US)

Saloon (UG)

Friday, November 7, 2014

From the Field

There is so much incredible work being done by faithful people all across this continent, and I'd love to share some of these stories with you. Below are links to friends' blogs highlighting some of their local ministries and cultural observations.

Uganda | Cana | Uplifted by the Horror Stories
"Of all the Bible studies we have done, the one that encouraged her the most was the goriest one because it finally was enough to prove to her that suffering does exist for Christians. Yes, God does work things together for good, but sometimes those things that He graciously transforms come from our suffering."

More boxes of Dasanach NT being brought inKenya | The Halvorson Family | Daasanach New Testament Dedication
"Join us in celebrating with the Daasanach people, who live on the Kenyan/Ethiopian border, as the missionaries there recently completed the New Testament translation in their language."
Uganda | Emily | On Yesterday's Adventure
"11:38- Thus commences a lot of discussion that is not in English, but the one word I hear repeatedly is Muzungu (white person). They are obviously discussing where to put me. I am finally ushered to the front seat of the car and crammed in next to an less than pleased looking man. We are now 8 adults in a 5 person vehicle."

Tanzania | The Pickels | 12 Months. 12 Observations.
"The biggest highway here in Dar (that we know of) is 2 lanes each way! Can you imagine? No wonder everyone’s road-raging all up in here! A 20 minute trip some days could take 1.5 hours. Tanzanians are pretty patient."

Madagascar | The Balstads | Turning of the Bones (famadihana)
"...I often read westerners say what an honor this is to the dead but they don’t realize the bondage these ancestors have put on to the people. This is not just for fun."