Friday, January 23, 2015

Fleas from friends

Last week I went for a walk to visit some friends in the village and brought home a surprise. I often go for a walk in the village and come back with various gifts from my friends there, corn, sweet potatoes, soy beans, popcorn kernels, sugar cane, etc. Last week I came back with an unexpected "gift".... fleas.

As I was sitting talking with one of the women, she began telling me about the bugs in her house that are biting her. She  then asked me to come into her house to show me. I thought it would be rude to refuse, so I walked in. I really do love this family and consider them friends. I know that two of the women are my sisters in Christ and I am praying for God's work in the hearts of the rest of them. (Please pray with me.) As I entered, I could not see any bugs since there are no lights or windows. I felt sad that my friends were being bitten by bugs, but I didn't know what to do other than express my concern for them. 

After visiting for a little longer, I walked home and arrived just in time to get dinner on the table. After dinner we got the kids cleaned up and in bed, and I was so exhausted that I just went to bed. I knew I should go shower, but I lacked the energy. Big mistake....

Later that night David found a flea in our bed. I hoped that was it. Then I started finding flea bites on me. A week later I found another flea. I now have about 20 flea bites and much more compassion for my friends in the village. I realized that while I felt bad for them before, I now understand their struggle much more. I know what it is like to wake feeling the fleas jumping on you. I understand the itchy feeling all over. And I know that I want to do whatever I have to do to get rid of these blood sucking pests.

Accidentally getting fleas is an inconvenience and frustration, but it occurred to me that what Jesus did for us is so much more, He loved us so much that he humbled himself by leaving heaven, becoming human, living 33 years in this fallen world without sinning, and intentionally suffering on the cross in order to wash away our sins and give us his righteousness. That kind of love amazes me! He didn't just accidentally get fleas because he forgot to shower. He knowingly touched lepers. He slept on the ground here and there as he traveled to heal the sick and preach the gospel. He went into homes of people who were outcasts. He let a woman of the night wash his feet with her tears. He even reaches out to you and me. Our sin doesn't contaminate him. He is not afraid to deal with our mess. He knows that He does not just feel sorry for us. He knows how we struggle, and he still chooses to love us.

As I write this story, I have a fear. I want you to understand that I am not like Jesus. I cannot save anyone. I am not super holy because I got fleas while trying to build a relationship. I was just unwise in not showering and changing right away when I got home. I write this story because this experience made me realize how amazing Jesus is. He would not hesitate to enter into that woman's house even if he knew that he would get fleas. On the other hand, I am trying to think of every way to prevent future infestations. His empathy for us and his willingness to sacrifice for you and me are amazing! I am so thankful that "we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin." (Hebrews 4:15) His love is amazing!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Good news!

Today I went back to the dentist for my two week follow up regarding the keratinized area on my tongue. The dentist examined my tongue and said that it looks normal! The keratinized tissue has begun sloughing off and is healing normally! I am so happy and relieved!

I want to thank so many of you for praying for me, particularly over these past 2 weeks. Several times each day I needed to remind myself that I could trust God with the future. I needed to take my mind off all of the "what ifs" and instead focus on the truth of what I know. It was also encouraging to me to realize how glad I am to be here in Uganda. I am so blessed to have the opportunity to teach missionary kids, love on children who don't have families and share the gospel with our neighbors in the village in word and deed. One day as I was walking home from visiting a neighbor, I was thinking about how there isn't  anything I would rather do with my life than serve God here. I feel so blessed that many of you support our ministry here and make it possible for us to be a part of God's work in this part of Uganda. I'm not saying that it is always easy or fun or that I don't miss family and friends terribly. But God has given me a joy and peace about what he has called us to do. I am thankful that in the midst of my struggle with fear, God graciously reconfirmed my calling. 

Over the past few weeks God has also given me little glimpses of ways he is at work. The most recent is the water that God has provided for our neighbors. (I wrote about that in my last blogpost.) Another answer to prayer is that the boy who had stopped walking, Salifu, is now doing so much better. He has met with the physical therapist here at GSF three times now. He is walking again, eating again and talking some. He is much improved, and I am so happy to see him regaining his strength. He even came with us to church on Sunday. Please continue to pray for him and his family. 

Thank you all for your prayers for me over the past two weeks! God has used my health concerns over the past year and a half to regularly remind me how I need to turn to Him. I am praying that even after a good report, I will still cling to Jesus, seeing my spiritual need as clearly as my physical ones.  Many thanks again for your prayers and walking through these trials with me! 

Sunday, January 18, 2015


We have been working for some time to get water to the property where we are building our house. It is a bit uphill from the rest of campus, so we needed to build another water tower and install a booster pump. Since we needed to get the water up to the property anyway, we decided to provide a tap for our neighbors. They were all fetching water from a place that is about a 10 minute walk away. 

We were hoping to make this water available for our neighbors back in December, but we ran into some complications. Finally, this weekend we got the water flowing into the tank! We scheduled a meeting with our neighbors to talk about how it works and let them know that they are free to use it. 
As we met tonight, we told them that we are thankful to have them as neighbors and talked a bit about the water. David explained how it works and demonstrated how to use the tap. 

After that he told our neighbors the story about Jesus explaining that he has living water. He told our neighbors that we hope they will quench their thirst with water from this tap, but we also hope that they will have living water through trusting in Jesus. Jonathan, our pastor from our local church, translated for us and closed our meeting with prayer. 

Afterward, the children began bringing their containers to get water for their families. They were all excited to not have so far to walk. 

We are so grateful for many of you who have helped make this project possible! Please pray with us for our neighbors, that they would receive living water through trusting in Jesus. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

One year post-op

This week it will be one year since I had surgery to remove the pre-cancerous tissue from the side of my tongue. At first the pain was constant and intense. Now, a year later, I still have pain daily, but not constantly. Usually, by the end of the day I have to concentrate more in order to speak clearly and that side of my tongue feels like it is burning and weak. But thankfully, I usually wake the next morning without pain. This daily reminder that I had pre-cancerous cells sometimes leads to thankfulness and sometimes leads to anxiety. 

Since my surgery, for follow-up care I have been seeing an American dentist in Jinja every 3 months, more frequently if I have an area of concern. Last Monday, I went for a check-up because it was time and because I had some concerns. There is a small area of keratinized tissue. He said that it is possibly from biting my tongue, which I do fairly frequently because I don't have feeling in some of that area. He wants me to come back in 2 weeks. 

Those are the facts. My thoughts and feelings have been on a roller coaster. Some moments, I am able to trust God with the future and just do what he has called me to do today. No use worrying about problems that might not even come. Those moments are the exception. I wake most mornings super tense, sometimes with a headache, sometimes with bad dreams of all the "what ifs." I am thankful that my work here caring for my family, teaching 6 different levels of math, loving on the children at the orphanage, and building relationships with our neighbors in the village keeps my mind fairly busy throughout the day. 

Each morning I tell God again, why he should heal me. As if I know better than him. As I was telling God about how I want to continue doing the work mentioned above, I realized that I was assuming that God needs me to accomplish all of this. He does not. He has graciously given me the privilege of being his hands and feet in the lives of my family, the missionary kids, the children of GSF and our neighbors. But he has a bigger better plan than I can imagine. 

I was telling God about how much I love my children and want to be well so that I can care for them. Then I remembered hearing a sermon by Ray Cortese in which he talked about coming to the realization that God loves our kids better than we ever could. Honestly, I often don't believe that. I think that I can protect them, help them, fix them, care for them best. Isn't that ridiculous? The God who created and sustains this whole world and loves us enough to send his Son to bring us into His family is definitely the One I want to be in control. Still I struggle. I am trying to remind myself of Scriptures that will transform the way I think. Please pray for me as I struggle to rest in God's goodness in this time of waiting. 

As I was debating about whether or not to write this blogpost, I was reading this book. 

Elyse Fitzpatrick talks about how the gospel frees us to be transparent. I don't have to pretend that I am fine and that I am trusting God with the future all the time. I have been given the righteousness of Jesus and don't need to pretend to earn my own "righteousness." 

Another fear in sharing these struggles is that all of you will overreact with me and ask me many questions about the future which I cannot answer. It is hard to say, "I don't know" hundreds of times. I don't know if this will turn out to be nothing or an area of concern. I don't know if it will change our furlough plans going back to see the doctor sooner. I don't know it it will need to be biopsied or if I will need to have another surgery, or what the doctor in the US thinks. I don't like living with this uncertainty. But I do think it is a more dependent, Biblical way to live. I do think God is teaching me to run to him rather than cling to my plans. Sometimes I am a slow learner. This morning I told God, "I believe you are working for my good. I believe you love my children more than I ever could and are working for their good. Please help my unbelief." 

As you pray for me, I have a few specific requests. First, I would love for you to pray with me asking God to bring complete healing to my tongue. But more importantly, I ask you to pray that through this trial I would learn to trust my loving Saviour more. He is good, all the time! Please also pray that I will not lose sight of the fact that God has blessed me with the opportunity to work here for his kingdom and his glory. I still have neighbors who don't know Jesus. I still live next to children who don't have parents to show them the love of God. I still have my own children and teach the other missionary kids who need to be encouraged with the gospel as they grow in their faith. I don't want to become so anxious and introspective that I stop reaching out to and loving those around me. I am also praying that my struggles will be an encouragement to others who are wrestling with trusting God. I am not just writing this blogpost for my sake. I hope it encourages you too. Please walk with me in this journey as we learn to trust God together. I know that that I am not the only one struggling. Jesus told us, "In this world you will have troubles. But take heart; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33) Jesus tells us to take heart, not because life will be easy or our struggles are gone, but because He has overcome it all! And one day, those who trust in Him will have no more tears, no more disease, no more anxiety, no more malnutrition, no more pain, no more AIDS, no more abuse, no more abandoned children, no more broken hearts, no more cancer, no more death! And God's people will live with Him for all eternity! (Revelation 21:1-4) Let's trust God together for each day he has given us to be a part of what He is doing to build his kingdom until that day.