Friday, March 30, 2018

Good Friday

Yesterday was Good Friday, the day we remember that Jesus died on the cross to take the punishment that our sins deserve. It seems strange to call something good that is so terrible, the Son of God being brutally killed. But it was good for you and me! It is often hard for me to believe that painful things can accomplish good. Yesterday I was able to visit with a woman in our village who has been struggling with that very thing. 

Since we did not have school yesterday, I had some time to visit with Shamim, a woman who has been so kind and generous toward me. On a previous day as I was walking through the village with Evie and our friends, We met Shamim as she was cutting some sugarcane for her children. She greeted us and offered some sugar cane to Evie. Evie was thrilled to receive liquid sugar straight from chewing the cane!

She also wanted togive us a gift since we stopped to visit with her. She had a package of disposable diapers that she gave us. It was such a generous gift as diapers are expensive!   

Yesterday when I went to visit Shamim, she prepared milk tea for us and even sanitized a bottle for Evie to try some. She also shared some bananas with us! Evie played with her children for quite some time as Shamim and I visited. Over this past year she had a baby die and then her husband left her with 3 other young children to care for. Since she is from a family that is from another religion, I was able to ask her if she understood why Christians celebrate on Good Friday. We talked about how God brought about the ultimate good of redeeming us through faith even through the grief of his only Son dying. I am thankful for such friendly neighbors in Buwundo who are open to hearing more about Jesus. 

As we were preparing to leave, this sweet friend sent us home with a bag full of avocados. Evie thoroughly enjoyed playing with and eating them when we reached home! Uh oh, I’ve been caught playing with my food again!!

As if the morning in the village was not enough of a joyous celebration on Good Friday, we were also given the opportunity to participate in a Passover Seder with some other families in Jinja. It was such a blessing to see how Jesus was so clearly represented through all the symbolism of this beautiful meal. I was thankful that our whole family was able to participate together. Afterward all of our children were able to run around with friends and have a blast while we stayed for a soup dinner. 

There is so much for which to be thankful in this season! God has graciously sent his own Son to redeem us! My sins are paid for! I have been brought into God’s family through Jesus. He is the Son of God, the Savior, who experienced death, that we might have life! And we know that death could not hold him! He is alive! But we will wait and celebrate that part tomorrow...

Saturday, March 17, 2018

A Date to Remember

On Thursday, Ezra and I had a mother-son date to Jinja. It didn’t occur to me that since it was Election Day for the MP(Member of Parliament), things might be a little crazy! It was a rainy day and even before we left the house things started to go awry. The windshield wiper on the passenger side broke and the car was making a bad noise, so we had to go to the mechanic in town first. After the vehicle safely made it through the 45 minute trek to town and right before reaching the Mechanic’s shop, we drove through a bunch of police officers with billy clubs in one hand and automatic weapons in the other. We made our way safely through and to the shop. From inside the Mechanic’s walled compound we could hear lots of shouting out in the streets. 

Since there was a noise beneath the van, the mechanic asked me to drive up the ramp in order for him to check beneath. I had never before tried to drive a vehicle onto a ramp that just had space for the tires. It was exciting! Then he got some other guys to come over and shake the van to see if anything was loose, all while we were still up on the ramp. It was an adventurous beginning for our date! You can see the ramp behind us in this photo. 

As we left, the police had cleared from that area and we passed many groups of people out walking in the streets. Apparently the opposition candidate won and many people were out celebrating! The shouting we heard earlier was probably when they were announcing the results. It was pretty challenging to get across town between the road construction, the crowds in the streets, and the various places we found police or soldiers marching. It made us a bit nervous, but in the end, we were able to get to a restaurant and have our milkshakes and snacks. 

While the trip was a little stressful, we were able to enjoy special time together and make some memories that will last a lifetime! Apparently the next day there was tear gas released in Jinja. I was thankful we didn’t get stuck in the middle of that situation. We are grateful that we were able to have a fun date that evening even though it didn’t quite go as planned. 

This unusual date with my boy reminded me that in every situation, I can either be thankful and trust that God is working for good even when things appear chaotic, or I can complain in my heart and waste the beautiful opportunities God gives us. By God’s grace, He enabled Ezra and me to keep a sense of humor and enjoy this special time together. I pray that in the course of our adventures, God will give me the ability to see his gifts in the midst of changed plans and challenging circumstances. I want to trust that my loving Lord is working for my good even when I’m trapped in a rambunctious crowd, and I don’t know what will happen. “And we know that God works all things for the good of those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28.

Many days I live like I don’t believe this truth. I’m irritable and complain when things don’t go as I had hoped or planned. I forget that God’s ways are much better than mine. I forget that He even uses these situations to conform me to the image of Jesus (vs.29) But on these occasions when, by his grace, I am able to trust Him amidst the craziness, I praise him for giving me His joy in the midst. It was a blessing to be able to share the gift of a moment of faith and joy with my precious son! Thanks be to God for a date to remember! 

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Where am I looking

Growing up, I took gymnastics classes for about 10 years. After that I began teaching gymnastics and did that for another 10 years in various part-time capacities. I always enjoyed floor and vault. Parallel bars were okay, but my least favorite event was the balance beam. It is not easy to stay on that thing! My younger students who were just learning to walk on the beam would inevitably look at their feet, see how narrow the beam is and the distance to the ground below and freeze up a bit. One “trick” I would teach my students is to keep their eyes at the end of the beam. If you look at the end, you keep your head up and it is much easier to move forward. 

I recently read in Matthew 14:23-33, the account of Jesus walking on the water and Peter stepping out to join him. It is amazing to think that Peter asked Jesus to call him to do something that he obviously could not do in his own strength. Peter believed that Jesus could enable him to do miraculous things. And then comes verse 30. “But when he (Peter) saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord, save me.’” Peter took his eyes off the end of the beam (Jesus). He looked at his circumstances instead of looking to the One who was enabling him to walk! 

Lately, I have felt like I’m sinking in some ways. I’ve spent too much time looking at the wind. When I have a free moment, I often find myself thinking about my mistakes and circumstances rather than looking to Jesus. I leave a conversation and immediately worry about what I said and how it might be interpreted. I fear how I might have failed or disappointed others. I get anxious about the adoption process. I worry about whether we will be able to cross the border with Evie to go to a Global Outreach conference in Kenya, even though we are working to get all the paperwork that would possibly be required. I get anxious about what next school year will look like as we are still looking for another teacher to cover all our classes. I look down at my feet and stop walking. I look at the wind and start sinking. 

In the midst of these times of anxiety and fear, I remember what Peter did when he started to sink. “He cried out, ‘Lord, save me.’ Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him.” I need to call out to my Lord in the midst of these struggles. I need to remember that He is there to rescue me. I am slowly learning that each time I start to sink, I can call out to my Lord. He will “reach out his hand and take hold of me.” He is loving and gracious! He is working for my good. I want to believe these truths and rest knowing that Jesus can accomplish the miraculous, and even when I get distracted by the wind, he is there for me. What an gracious, kind, powerful Savior!