Saturday, March 28, 2015

Let it rain!

We have finally entered into the rainy season here. The dry season was long, hot and very dusty. But the rains have begun. Growing up in America I mostly thought of rain as an inconvenience. Here I realize how essential it is for life. 

It is hard to grow much during the dry season, so people wait until the rains begin to plant their crops. This week all of our neighbors have been planting. It is an exciting time of year!

While the rains are so important for those who grow their own food, they also bring some less desirable effects. First my boys are almost always covered in mud. Here is Zeke splashing in a mud puddle. 

Along with the rain also come many insects. One night recently I killed almost 20 crickets and nearly 100 other insects in our home. I have begun killing insects with my bare hands. If you use the side of your fist near your pinky finger, you dont feel the crunch as much. I still need a shoe or napkin to asist me in killing the larger spiders and crickets. But watch out cochroaches and white ants! The white ants, a.k.a. termites, have arrived in swarms. They are a bit of an annoyance to me, sweeping up all those that I kill, but the kids of GSF love to catch them, remove the wings and fry them. Yes, they are food for many here. Here is one pile of what I cleaned up the other night.
"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." I Thessalonians 5:16-18

It is easy for me to begin complaining in my heart about all of these inconveniences, but when I go out my back door and see all of my friends who depend on this rain for growing food, I thank God. I thank him for the blessing of this rain and the way he cares for so many by sending it. I also am thankful for the cooler breezes the rain brings. It is so refreshing! And I am thankful for the picture of grace that the rain is. (I think this analogy comes from Martin Luther, but I'm not sure. I read it in a Bible study somewhere.) We do nothing to earn or deserve the rain. We cannot make it happen. We just recieve it. It is the same way with grace. We can do nothing to earn or deserve a relationship with God. He is perfectly righteous; I am not. On my own I am separated from God. But in his compassion He showers his grace on us. He gives us the righteousness of Jesus. We just receive it through faith, like the ground recieved the rain. (Ephesians 2:8-9) Thank you, God, for showering your grace on us through Jesus! Thank you, God, for the rain! 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Girls' morning out

On Tuesday mornings, the women from our missionary team meet for a time of what I call AGAPE (Accountability, Gospel Application, Prayer and Encouragement). We have been meeting on Tuesday mornings for several months now. We usually just talk and pray for one another, sometimes over a cup of tea or coffee. Since this week was the last week of our friend, Nurse Kim, being here with us, we decided to go out for breakfast together. 

The nearest restaurant to where we live is at a lodge in nearby Mabira Forrest. It is called Rainforest Lodge and it is a beautiful place! It is one of my favorite places here; it is peaceful and quiet and does not require driving through crazy traffic to get there. There are two ways to get there from GSF. One way is along the main road, but that way is longer and with more crazy drivers. The back way is a bit difficult to find on dirt roads mostly through sugarcane fields, so I made notes the last time I went, knowing that I would be driving the women out there soon. As Amy navigated for me and read the directions aloud we all had a good laugh. There aren't any street names or anything just some landmarks, sort of. I thought you might enjoy reading our directions. 

Directions to rainforest lodge:
Pass through Kikube and Bamungaya.
After Bamungaya school sign, turn right into sugar cane main intersection. 
Turn left at T in sugarcane. 
Stay between 2 sets of power lines, passing a brick making area on left. 
Turn left at another T where the land ahead is swampy and the sugarcane was recently burned. (March 2015)
Pass under a tree arching over the road, forest is in the distance on the right.
Take the second right after tree arch at the backward Y intersection. 
Turn right when road dead ends at the forest.
Turn left onto the dirt road heading into the forest. 
Turn right at the sign for Rainforest Lodge. The sign is facing the other direction, but you can see the stacked stones with the back of a sign. 

We did make it there and back without getting lost in the sugarcane fields. It was a great time eating a delicious breakfast, sitting and talking, and praying for one another. I am so thankful for these women (and the 2 others who couldn't make it this time.) I was a bit sad thinking of how many of us will be going in different directions in the near future with furloughs and a few moving away. But I am also very thankful that God has brought us together to grow in love and encourage one another as we do the work He has called us to do. 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Chord groups

"Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!... A three-fold chord is not quickly broken." Ecclesiastes 4:9-10,12b

For several years now, David and I have been passionate about the importance of community for the Christian life. Back in the US we led a community group for over 10 years, and David was the elder overseeing that ministry at our church. Now, as our missionary team has grown and changed over the past few years, we have been working to build more intimate community with our team here. We all need brothers and sisters in our lives to remind us of the gospel and to help us live out all of the "one another" commands in Scripture. I have so many thoughts on this particular topic, that I have considered writing a book about it. Maybe one day... 

As we have thought about the importance of Christian community for ourselves, we have also realized that children can benefit from Christian community too. The children who live here at GSF do not have loving families who are discipling them as they grow. Instead they have housemoms who care for them well, but who also have many other children to care for, several of whom have special needs and require much time and attention. In order to better to disciple the children here and provide Christian community for them, GSF has developed "chord groups." The concept is based on the verses above. The children are divided into age and gender specific groups. In each group there is a missionary and a Ugandan staff member as leaders. It is our hope and prayer that these small groups will provide opportunities for these kids to have a meaningful connection with adults who can help point them to Jesus. We also hope that as they grow, they will encourage one another in their faith. 

I have enjoyed the opportunity to meet with the the girls of GSF aged 8-10. We usually spend our time together making something like doll clothes, brownies, or Easter cards, eating snacks and talking about the gospel. I have the privilege of working with one of our Ugandan social workers to love on these girls. Below is a photo of the girls eating popcorn after some sewing.  Sewing is not one of my talents, but the girls wanted to, so we worked on it together. 

David gets to build relationships with the boys ages 10-12. That usually happens during a game of soccer or basketball and a brief Bible study. 

Please pray for us as we invest in the lives of these kids. It is our hope that we can equip them, in order that one day they will also go and make disciples! (2 Timothy 2:2)