Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Glory to God.

So for the past week, I’ve been trying to post a blog about thankfulness. But it just sn't coming to me. And, I’m pretty positive that I’ve got it down to a few reasons why:

  1. I have way too many things to be thankful for that I can’t figure out how to put them into one blog.

  2. Power always seems to be out when I get bursts of writing inspiration.

  3. I’ve been neglecting to write first about what I’m most thankful for.

“If Ephesians says to imitate Christ, why do you look so much like the world?”

The line of a song that keeps resounding in my head. All of my erased blog drafts even reflect it. Instead of giving thanks first to the giver of life and the Savior of my soul, I try to write about Uganda, America, my family, my friends all over the world and the bountiful blessings I’ve been given. So while, I’m more than grateful for all of the above things, I can’t write about them tonight. The weight of my heart won’t let me.

It’s going to be about Jesus.

“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11

Let us praise the name of the living God. Over the past few days, I’ve had a revival in my heart, and I can thank nothing and no one other than God for it. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in the ways of the world, the concerns of this life, and the worries of tomorrow, that I forget what I was created to do in the first place. Which is nothing, but to glorify God – whatever that is supposed to look like. However, I figure it’s a little hard to bring glory to God if I’m too busy trying to figure it out on my own instead of heeding his Word and listening to his voice.

I don’t know much, but here’s what I do know:

  • Because of God, I can love. And, I love to love.

  • Laughing makes me happy, and I’m able to share that joy with others (Profound, right?).

  • Flexibility is learned trait, and being flexible makes joy a little easier to come by.

  • I just want to live out God’s calling for my life.

  • I don’t know always know what that “calling” is.

  • Plans are different than reality, and praise God for that.

  • Time isn’t slowing down, and no one is able to determine when his time will be over.

  • People are people no matter where they are in the world.

  • All those people need Jesus.

I want to be like my Jesus.

“I’m not sure what it means to be like you, Jesus. You said to live like you love, like you, but then you died for me.”

So what does that mean for me? Does it matter? Should it change the way that I live?

“Now there is a huge difference between being saved from something and being saved for something (Cat and Dog Theology by Bob Sjogren).”

Somehow, I don’t think my lack of knowledge is going to keep me from living my life. Actually, my inability to figure out what I’m doing has become rather encouraging over the past few days. Because I was saved for something. And, even if I have no idea what it might look like in the day-to-day life, I do know that it is to glorify God.

My heart will sing no other name, but Jesus.

“For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.” Romans 11:36

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Let us love one another.

Heel, toe, docie doe, Come on baby let’s go boot scootin’.

For someone who desperately misses her weekly country dancing excursions with the girls, I’ve been waiting patiently (depending on whom you talk to) for the opportunity to break out line dances and do some two stepping with some friends here in Uganda. A girl can only do the dance to her own tune by herself so many times before she wants a partner or at least some one to join in.

Friday my dream came true. Some of my best friends came over to the house for our own little dance party.

I have been so blessed to establish relationships with these women through a small bible study we started at the university in town. It has been so refreshing to regain authentic and life-giving friendships in my daily life with other young women living their lives for Christ.

I have to let you know that the pumpkin I blogged about a few weeks ago is still being put to good use. Who knew one pumpkin would go so far? I’ve done immeasurable amounts of baking and freezing with it. And, come to find out, very few people in Uganda have ever used pumpkin in baking things such as muffins and cakes! So, it has been my pleasure to introduce one of my favorite delicacies to my friends. Therefore, no party was about to begin without first sharing the pumpkin cake Dara and I had made that afternoon. It was a dashing success and satisfied the taste buds of all :) After finishing our little fall snack, we cleared out the living room, brought out the drums, and hooked up our itunes’ playlists to the speakers as we allowed ourselves to indulge in the pleasantry of just being girls.

Being able to step to the left or to the right, jump forward or hop backward varies significantly from the footwork and hip shaking my Ugandan friends were trying to teach me to do. The desire to catch their rhythm was contagious; unfortunately, the ability to catch it was not. Three hours of ethnic culture dances to a couple of different Ugandan tribal beats, some Beyonce and Shakira, and finally some good old country dancing was enough to fool me though. And, there aren’t any video clips to prove me wrong.

As the neighbor boys continued slashing (the Ugandan version of mowing) our yard, I’m sure their imaginations were intrigued as to what was shaking in our house. Oh, little did they know...

The memories continue to make their mark on my heart every day that I'm given to live in this country.

“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called, ‘Today,’…” Hebrews 3:13

I’ve been abundantly blessed with friends all over the world who build me up, encourage me, and spur me toward Christ. I’m such a lucky girl.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

A cheerful heart is good medicine.

Apologies for my long delay in writing to you all. The longer I live in Uganda, the more numb I become to discerning what is actually newsworthy information! It takes a moment of stepping outside of my life and viewing it from the outside in before I can determine what to write.

Over the past few weeks, there have been exciting changes, dramatic events, and more adjusting to life in Mbarara. The most exciting was the addition of a new roommate! Meet Martha Hopper. Our dynamic duo household has transformed into the terrific trio. Her arrival has been the talk of the neighborhood! To celebrate her arrival, we had a nice little “family” dinner at our compound. Of course it was Carolyn and I’s specialty – Mexican. And, for a little dessert we delighted in monogrammed sopapillas! Martha is the latest addition to AIM team Mbarara. Our team continues to defy many missionary statistics as we add more and more young singles to it!

It just so happens that I have another teammate who teaches English grammar and literature at Ntare Boys’ School. It is a prestigious school here in Mbarara, and he so graciously allotted me the chance to come and observe last week! Plans are in the process of forming for me to come in this week, too. I’m continuously praying about what teaching is supposed to look like for me here in Uganda. As of now, I’m continuing to enjoy my time with Dara, and the term is flying. Being the wonderful student she is, I received my first “teacher” gift of the year – a beautiful arrangement of flowers picked specifically by her!

In other big news, a few days ago I officially obtained status as a real African. Many formulas circulate as to how this is reached, but the most common one I’ve heard is:

1. Receive an African name.
2. Get in a boda accident.

3. Contract malaria.

I know I’ve shared before how my dear friend Sophie dubbed me Ankunda, meaning He loves me. I was honored to receive such a name, but was fine at stopping there. I didn’t really feel the need to complete the following steps. Unfortunately, as I continue to discover, my will isn’t the one that always prevails. Number two is under speculation as to whether I’ve truly experienced this or not, but because I’m not overzealous to experience it at any greater level, I’m checking it off the list. Slipping off of a boda can count right? And, number three. Yes, good old malaria hunted me down on Wednesday night.

The word is scarier than the illness itself. Although, it truly hasn’t been a fun experience, I think the worst part was the finger prick when I was tested for it at the clinic. I don’t admit my weaknesses very often, but have no shame in letting it be known that I hate needles! Unfortunately, my mother wasn’t there to hold my hand. Joel did his best to remind me to keep breathing. Once again, I was reminded of just how thankful I am to be on this team! Because malaria is so common here, the Skinners happened to have medication on hand so I could begin it immediately. Therefore, I’m on the mend.

However, this inconvenient illness postponed Carolyn and I’s trip to Rwanda for the weekend. Interesting timing of it all. But, because I was supposed to be out of town, my weekend is cleared and set aside for rest and recovery. God truly does work all things out accordingly.

Power outages have continued to just be a way of life here, but I think we are finally reaching stability. We went another week without it as the power company worked to replace our transformer again. The terminology I’ve learned about power and electricity since moving to Africa has grown tremendously. I’ve also picked up a little saying from Zillah, my teammate from England, “Oh my life,” as she would say. It just seems to express how I’m feeling at times a little more accurately than, “Oh my word” or “Oh my goodness.” It also tends to work in a variety of contexts, just depending on your tone of voice.

In spite of malaria and delayed roadtrips, I’ve been reminded of what love in action looks like.

“Love must be sincere… Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” Romans 12: 9, 12-13.

It’s a reminder for me that nothing happens outside of the will of God and to remain joyful, patient and faithful. It’s a reminder to me of what God’s love can look like through the love of those who love Him. Get well pictures from Dara and Dade, surprise visits from my friend Primrose (even on her birthday!), phone calls from other beloved friends such as Sylivia, check-ups from the neighbors, and bedtime fable stories from Carolyn. Oh my life :)