Thursday, June 28, 2012

USA or bust!

So, that time is upon me. The time where I pack 3 gigantic bags full of stuff and haul them back to the land of air conditioning, and salads, and cheeseburgers just so I can pack them full again, mostly with things to eat. Like peanut butter. Time to sleep in people's spare bedrooms. Time to reconnect with loved ones. Time to try and speak coherently about what in the world I do here in Uganda in the time it would take me to ride an elevator. Time to try and raise a billion my dreams.
Thus, the life of a missionary. 
Tyson and I will be coming back "home" to "Merica" (said in the voice of George Bush) that land that we love. And we are just crazy enough to try and attempt another ROAD TRIP to see friends, and talk about our adventures in Uganda. 
This is the part where beg our friends to let us sleep on their couches. 
As usual, we have tentative plans:

  • July 21-29- UK
  • July 30- August 12- San Francisco Bay area, Redding, CA region
  • Aug 13-26th Virginia (Charlottesville, Richmond, Harrisonburg) (just me)
  • Aug 15- Harrisonburg, Va- Horizon Christian Church, 7pm  197 Cornerstone Drive, Harrisonburg, VA 22802
    • Aug 19- Harrisonburg, Va- Alethia Church (morning service) 801 Parkwood Drive, Harrisonburg, VA
    • Aug 22- NOVA- Oakbrook Church- eve service- 1700 Reston Pkway, Reston, VA
    • Aug 26- DC- National Community Church- morning service
    • Sept 2- Richmond- Harvest Renewal Church- morning service
    • Sept 8th- ROAD TRIP BEGINS!
    • Sept 9th- Sun, 11am- Bethany's Church- Freedom Christian Ministries, NC  
      2226 Shaw Avenue
       Gastonia , NC , 28054 USA
    • Sept 13th- Thurs, 7pm - Hatteras Island Christian Fellowship, Hatteras, NC
    • Sept 16th- Sun service, 8:20am & 11am- Christ the King, Kingwood, TX
    • Sept 24th- Sunday open to church in Texas
    • Sept 25-30th- Charlottesville, VA
    • Sept 27th, Bridgewater, AM; Deeper at JMU 7pm, Harrisonburg, VA 
    • October- 1-18th San Francisco, CA & Redding, CA
    • Oct 19th- back in Uganda
    • Oct-Dec- Uganda 

We're really open to places to see/stay. 
I'm looking for a few people who will commit to connecting me into their churches and network me into groups who might want to partner with Zion Project. Would love your help with this.
I'm actually more organized this time. This is completely due to Tyson's affect on me and his ability to find really cool websites that do things to make life easier. 
So...Prepare to be amazed!
1. You can click here  to go to a really cool form if you want me to come speak in your area.
2. You can offer up your homes, couches, backyards for us to sleep in.
3. You can loan us your motor home (kidding...but seriously that would be awesome!)
Thanks for being so helpful! We're excited to see you all!

Friday, June 08, 2012


When I first came to Uganda's green earth six years ago at what I thought was the overly mature age of 26, Pauline was one of the child mothers I met who I was immediately drawn to.

She had a quiet spirit about her and a face that spoke volumes of the hardships she'd experienced in her mere 16 years.

When I started the Rehabilitation Home, she was one of the first to come and live with me. We spent many days and nights talking, as girls love to do. A boy had impregnated her and left her.

Alone, rejected, and abandoned, she had little hope for her future. Her biggest dream, being able to go to school. 

She became indispensable to me. Helping with translation, resolving the many conflicts between teenage girls, and she quickly became a trusted friend. I had no idea that at such a young age, I would become a mother. But almost overnight I was feeding, clothing, giving advice, and bandaging the broken hearts of 11 girls. 

Pauline's heart was very tender and as the healing came, so did her love for Jesus.
I remember the many nights we spent praying that some day God would send her a godly husband who would love her with all his heart so she could get married.

I can see the incredulous disbelieving faces of the girls now as I told them, that this was God's plan for them. That no matter where we've messed up, or what has happened to us, no matter if we have a child and are afraid no man will love us, that God's good plan is to give us the desires of our hearts.
His plan is always redemption.

Picking up the gold glittering in the dark.

They looked at me like, “Yeah, right.” Sure, Mama.
Slowly, I began to watch them start dreaming, start hoping, and this was the scariest part of all. To think that now open, now softened, they might be crushed again.
I could only pray, “Father show them your goodness.”

Through the years, I've watched Pauline grow into a woman I'm so proud of. She accomplished her dream of finishing school and went on to a degree course in Accounting and soon became our first Financial Officer at Zion Project.

She met a great man who is head over heels in love with her and her son, and loves God. Their dream was to get married. The hope grew.

We began dreaming and planning for a mass wedding where she and Mark would finally get married. As time drew near, her father had still refused for them to move forward. Here in Uganda, one of the major obstacles to marriage is a high dowry price the future husband is supposed to pay to the parents.
Pauline cried and we prayed.

Father, please.
Move heaven, for this one. 

Pauline kept trusting Jesus, and I kept pleading.
A few weeks ago her father finally gave his permission.

Tomorrow, Pauline will put on the gown that I wore on my wedding day and walk down the aisle to her beloved. Tomorrow, the fulfillment of her dreams, the crown for the many years spent alone and waiting.
Many others—the broken, the former prostitute, the ones others had given up on, will commit their lives before God to love only each other.

In a country rife with polygamy, this is Heaven's precious gift.

The victory sweetest after the long, hard fight.
I am reminded that this is a miracle. A healing of a different kind. Not in the body, but in the soul.
And in a nation.
Her life, a stone of remembrance, that Father keeps His promises.

In the middle of all the chaos, in the midst of the swirling storm, the gold on her finger glitters against the night. 

And I am as proud as a mother can be.

*Want to say a special thank you to all of you who donated your wedding dresses to make this day very special. Hopefully it will be the first of many weddings to come. Pictures to follow..... 

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Trust is seeing

We just moved into a home that doesn't feel like home yet. Four truckloads of our things fill the garage in makeshift heaps. Said goodbye to the open windows and the sunflowers.

Before we could breathe a sigh of relief, that we and our children are not homeless, begging for bread on the streets, our landlord called on my birthday.

He doesn't want the girls in his home anymore, says it isn't going to work out. 
After he gave his word.
After we paid and loaded a lorry full.
After we just put six months down on our new place and left our home of three years because we trusted him.

Wants to kick 17 little Kingdom carriers rescued from rape and abuse, out on the streets in a week.
Someone called from the farm: the pineapples have rot and some are dying.

I could have laughed at the irony of it all, if it wasn't so cruel.
Tyson and I are in Jinja trying to relax to the sound of the rushing Nile river when we get the news.

And I know, without a doubt, these are the costs of setting the captives free. The enemy is not happy.

Last week we ended a counseling seminar where there were so many testimonies of freedom.

One woman, a former prostitute whose given her life to Jesus shared, “I thank God so much for this healing that has broken all the rooms the devil had built in our lives.”

Freedom has its price.
He wields his strongest weapon against us.
He flaunts discouragement in my face and taunts me to give up.
What do we sacrifice for really?

This is where trust feels more like a burn than a bandage. 
This is where choice needles deep and splinters. 

We've come here to rest. But he wants to steal our joy.
What we will we choose when it's hard?

Faith or fear. Trust or despair.
Do we believe that God is good?

When the sickness is not healed yet. When the home is not provided yet. When the land is not ours yet.
These are the moments where faith has a chance to rise.

Where we have a chance to rise up.
I let my heart feel the pain of it. After all, this is not denial.
Then we pray and give it to Jesus. These, are not our battles to fight.

And we make a choice: Trust.

We decide to enjoy our time and not talk about it. We decide to let God be God. Let Him fight for us.

And we have a beautiful weekend letting the sound of water soothe our weary souls and weave us more together, and even more in love. 

Five years ago, I would have made a different choice. I would have let the news ruin my weekend. I would have worried and griped and moaned and blamed and wondered where was God. I would have tried to fix it. Because that's what I do.

But now I know, that Father is good. Always.
He is at work while I wait, clinging to His hand.
If I believe this, then I cannot worry. I can only praise Him, while I fall in His arms.

As I read through Paul's letters from prison, I am reminded that suffering does not mean that we have done something wrong. That we messed up or mis-stepped or made a mistake. I used to think that way. That is was some sort of punishment.

But suffering with and for Jesus is a gateway to glory. 

Sometimes the path of suffering is exactly where God wants us so greater beauty can be released.
Faith built.
Growth spurred.
Paul said, “Everyone who wants a godly life in Christ will suffer persecution.” (2 Timothy 3:12)
Sometimes I forget that.

On our drive back to Gulu, with the sun setting in the expansive sky and the smell of acacia trees, thorny and sweet, breezing in our window to soothe the day's sticky heat, I know that Father is for me. And that I love this place. The North. With her woundedness and confusion, with her fickle heart. 

Sure, there are roaches in my bathtub, and a sink which is leaking, and mosquitos which buzz in my ear in the heat when the power is out, while the dogs keep barking at night, but I will make this place a home.

I'll dig up my zucchini plants and replant them if I have to, all the while thinking of the wise words of a wiry Acholi man named Dickson: “Nothing can defeat a human.”
We'll keep laying a foundation of God's goodness in this place. Waiting, all the while knowing, He keeps His promises.

And eventually, the sun will stretch out her arms to split through the clouds. 

And we will see it.
Because we've chosen to.

“For since the world began, no ear has heard and no eye has seen a God like you. Who works for those who wait for Him.” Isaiah 64:4