Monday, February 25, 2019

Safely Stateside

Here I lie in a comfy bed unable to sleep because it is the middle of the day on the other side of the world, where I was just yesterday, or maybe it was two days ago, I’m not really sure in my jet lagged state. Most of my family is still over there, and I miss them. I’m here in the US for a brief time to connect with family, friends, and ministry partners. 
As I looked in the mirror this morning, I realized that in this place I look different. I feel tired and old. The bags under my eyes from travel and my wrinkles seem much more prominent than on my most tired days in Uganda. When I get up in the morning there, I am most concerned with having time alone with God to pray and read the Bible with a cup of coffee before the children need something. Here I woke and thought, “I look terrible, what will everyone at church think of me?” It is embarrassing to me that I came to speak about what God is doing, but am really more concerned with what everyone thinks of me. I wondered what to do to improve my appearance. I don’t usually wear make-up except when I get a chance to go on dates with my husband, and even then, nothing that covers wrinkles or bags. I don’t even own that kind of make-up. As I put on my sweater that I wear every morning in Uganda I now noticed holes that I never saw before. Why is it that every time I come back to the United States, the stains and holes in all my clothes become so obvious to me? I love that in my daily life in Uganda I don’t care about those things. I focus on the people God has given me to love, my family, my students, my neighbors and the children at GSF. I don’t worry about my clothes or appearance. Why should that be any different here? 

In Uganda, my children wear clothes with holes and I don’t care. That is normal. Here I begin to feel embarrassed. It is so strange living in these two very different worlds. It is tricky to learn to live with contentment in both of them. I recently read this post written by another missionary serving in East Africa and it really resonated with my experience.

I want to learn to live with contentment in both settings. The apostle Paul says in Philippians 4 that he has “ learned the secret of being content in every situation... living in plenty and in want.” I want to live this life of contentment on both sides of the ocean. I thank God for the many ways He shows me His faithful loving care for me and those around me in both places. As I arrived in country, my dear friends had a pile of winter clothes and shoes for me that they either purchased for me or lent to me. It was so good to see God’s provision in something as basic as the clothes I needed in order to stay warm. It reminds me of Matthew 6.
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew‬ ‭6:25, 28-30, 33‬ ‭ESV‬‬,28-30,33.esv)
As I see God’s provision for each of my basic needs it reminds me that I can be content in each situation. I can choose to live in faith rather than in fear. And I remembering God’s faithful loving care and provision for me is an important part of shifting my focus. I pray that when fears and discontentment begin to take over, I will instead focus on God’s gracious loving care for me and how He has called me to show that love to those around me. Whether I am in Uganda, or in the United States or anywhere in the world, I am in the arms of my loving Savior.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

On my way

Today Elijah and I are on our way for a quick trip to the US. If you haven’t gotten details through our email, either it went to your spam folder or you are not on our mailing list. If you want to join the mailing list, let me know. If you are in the Athens, Georgia area you can come see us at Faith Presbyterian Church on Sunday, Feb.24. If you are near Boca Raton, FL you can find us at Advent Lutheran Church on Sunday, March 3. Please pray for David as he cares for the other four kids while I’m away. 

Sunday, February 10, 2019

What a Start!

The start of 2019 has been crazy! I wrote about the incident with the bees attacking some of our neighbors. Since then, so much has happened. One week contained the death of the son of one of our friends, the burial of that child, another friend's child having a strange sickness that caused a temporary total shutdown of her metal faculties, the death of a family friend of many of our students, several families inquiring about our school which led to 4 new students, a home study to prepare for Evie's adoption, a transition in leadership of the Buwundo Beads and Crafts group, working on hiring someone to assist us with cleaning at school and another person to help with caring for Evie while I'm teaching, the death of an elderly neighbor and assisting with details for his burial, and finally, an attack on our ministry by a dozen thieves who entered the homes of two of our missionary families at Good Shepherd's Fold. In the midst of all of this, I have seen God at work in many ways.

I recently listened to a sermon about suffering. This quote caught my attention. "God will graciously give you suffering and faith, so that you might enjoy making much of Him through the fearlessness of faith and the humility of love... In small ways and large ways, you will suffer... The design of this double gift of suffering and grace is humility, love and fearlessness." (John Piper's sermon on Philippians 1) God is graciously giving suffering and faith during this season. I am finding myself less anxious these days in the midst of many challenges. God is growing my faith. I'm sure my struggle with anxiety and fear is not over completely, but God is showing me that I can trust Him to sustain and even grow us through difficulties.

Last week another missionary couple came to visit us here at GSF. They have been connected with the ministry here for many years. As they led our time of team devotions and they shared some words of encouragement  with us. One thing the woman shared was the image of our Lord going before us, preparing the way  for us. It was a good reminder that these struggles are not a surprise to God. He has intended these challenges for our good and gently leads us in and through them. It seems silly for me to be anxious as I walk down the path following my Lord, who loves me, is all-powerful, and is working for my good. Instead I will trust where He leads. I thought I would share this photo Elijah took as a visual representation of that.

We have also seen God provide above and beyond what was needed to replace the things that were stolen. This additional provision will enable GSF to improve our campus security. We also hope and pray that many people are strengthened in their faith through as they hear of the ways God is at work here. And during the week following the theft, some of the GSF staff went to share the love of Christ at a local hospital. They provided some necessary supplies for the hospital and shared the gospel. It was so encouraging to hear that some people put their faith in Jesus Christ as a result of that outreach!

We are thankful that God has given us little glimpses of what He is doing in the midst of this challenging season. Sometimes we just move forward in faith, and sometimes God provides us with a little picture of his good purposes in the midst of it all. Either way, God is good, all the time. And all the time God is good!