Friday, December 07, 2012

A New Season...

“By changing nothing, nothing changes.” -Tony Robbins

Five years is a long time.

It's a lot of sweaty bus-rides. It's a lot of roach killing, and mouse killing, and eating posho and beans. It's a lot of swatting mosquitos on your legs, and running out of water just as you soaped up your body.

It's a lot of pouring out your life. 

And it's a long time without air-conditioning, that's for sure.

A lot of time to fall in love with a place and it's people.

And even more time to love the reality vs. the rosy colored version.

It's a lot of time to learn what it really means to be a missionary, to love the ONE, to try to build God's Kingdom while still maintaining your sanity (sort of.)

A lot of time to learn what it's not. 

Lots of late-night tears, and snorting laughter. Lots of proud moments as you watch your people starting to “get it.”

Lots of evenings in the studded darkness.

Plenty of moments of needing Father's grace and actually experiencing it. 

Plenty of mistakes.

And glimmers of glory. 

So many transformed lives just by starting with the one in front of us. 

Over the past few years, I've come into a deeper understanding of the fact that when God heals us up, He trusts our hearts, He trusts what He has put inside of us, and He trusts our decisions.

I've come into a deeper revelation of His love and His goodness towards me, even in the darkest places on earth. 

Sometimes He is asking us to trust that new heart He's put in us to guide us into the next phase of our destiny. 

We are on the verge of a new season that I'm excited to share with you.

For over a year and a half now, Tyson and I have been praying about our future, and the future of what God has for Zion Project.

We knew that a change was coming, but it was a blurry pin hole of light that hadn't come into focus yet. 

Then God really began to speak to us about making some changes.
I'll admit, I was not a fan at first. But Father, is as usual, very patient with me, because I'm really hard-headed!

The last five years of living in Uganda has been a beautiful, joyously heart-wrenching adventure of personal and ministry growth. 

Father has taught me so much and I treasure every minute of having lived life here.

I've learned that I really can't do it all (ha! And it only took me 5 years to figure that out!)

But seriously, I think it took my heart a while to come to grips with the fact that one season was ending, and a new season was beginning which would involve spending more time in the USA and abroad, and less time in my beloved Uganda. 

Slowly, I began to see that Zion Project cannot really grow in healthy ways unless I am in the States to nurture it---to share my heart, connect with like-minded people, raise support for our mission, to recruit amazing missionaries, to dream bigger dreams and help us focus on our vision of healing people and nations.

We have truly come to the point that we can't continue in our mission until a host of people join our vision to transform nations!

So this will be my focus in the States.

We're also feeling God leading us into greater depths and new places to bring counseling and inner healing to more war-torn regions and we need time to really focus our vision. (without the constant serenade of babies and roosters)

Also, as many of you know, our desire to begin our own family beyond our darling Ugandan family has really grown, and I've seen way too many births here to even contemplate that level of crazy!

I also really want to be a support system for Tyson as he pursues His entrepreneurial dreams. (I mean, he has kinda been great about supporting me these past few years. I guess it's time for some payback!)

I am a mom to many, but I've come to grips with the fact that I'm not super mom (even though I do have the big hair for it) and I truly want my family to come first. 

We also feel that after six years of back and forth to the field, it's time for a season of rest.
I think we're pretty smart to be doing this as we've seen way too many people start to burn out, implode, or get weird (not in a good kind of way :)

Also, to be honest, after a lot of sicknesses and the loss of our baby due to an ectopic pregnancy, I'm pretty pumped to focus on letting God take care of me for a bit and getting healthy.
I'm going to be Jane Fonda-ing it up!

I will still be working full-time on Zion Project from the US, supporting our staff, but my job will no longer be requiring the same unrealistic expectations of me (picture trying to load photos and video to a newsletter using dial-up speed while simultaneously leading people to Jesus in the slums!)

I will also have many wonderful opportunities to be filled up, poured into, and trained in new counseling techniques with new partners, which I'll then be able to bring to my team on the ground. (hooray!)

And hopefully lots of time at Bethel!

And I'll finally be able to focus on finishing my book (it's true! I've been promising for way too long)

I'm excited to meet all the new friends Father will join to us. 

So this last year has been a time of really training and equipping my staff on the ground to run things in my absence and I'm excited to empower them to really own this thing themselves. I know they will be successful because I know they are really getting God's heart.

We leave behind a beautiful group of people whose lives God has touched, who every day are thriving and growing in Him. (although we really can't take the credit--God kinda helped)

I also have a wonderful, multi-talented replacement on the ground, Brittany Dunay, who will be our interim Country Director until we find someone more long-term.

So we will be moving back to the San Francisco Bay Area in 3 weeks!  

We will celebrate Christmas here in Uganda, and the new year in California to start our new life. How crazy is that!??

This is not goodbye to Uganda forever, just goodbye for now. I'll be going back and forth and have a return ticket already so they really can't get rid of me yet!

I know this may come as news to some of you, but we have such peace about this. 

If you have any questions I'd be happy to answer them, although I'm kinda in losing-my-mind town right now trying to train up staff and pack of 5 years of a life. (I've literally found things that I don't know what they are or where they came from!)

We're really looking forward to this next step, to renting our own apartment, putting pictures up on the wall, being close to family and friends, being able to press the easy button for once, turn up the AC, and enjoy things like gyms and real lettuce salads. (well, at least I will, while Tyson is downing a cheeseburger.)

We're excited to bring our experience of living in Uganda to ignite the local church and friends at home. 

So we can love many more!

We're so grateful for each of you and your support over the years!

Pray for our hearts in this departure that God will hold us in His arms as I know it will not be easy to leave our home.

Pray for our team that they would continue to grow and mature into their leadership roles, pray for a smooth transition—for jobs, place to live, and peace.

Oh and pray that God will help us pay for things like furniture and blenders.

So weird to realize you're almost 32 and you don't own a sofa. Or a blender.

With love,
Sarita & Tyson

**In 2013 I'll have a lot more time to speak and attend events:
  • Our team will be at Urbana Dec 27-31st so come check out our table! 
  • Sarita will be speaking at James Madison University's InterVarsity Women's Conference Jan 26th in Harrisonburg, VA
  • Sarita will be at the Justice Conference in Philadelphia, PA February 21-24th
  • If you'd me to speak at your church/event in 2013 please book me early here

Monday, December 03, 2012

Death and Life

As we sat in the knee-high grass legs itchy, sun scorching, and the sound of worship heard over the wailing I concentrated on the yellow weeds at my feet growing wild and thorny.

I wonder if someone planted them here. 

I've been here before.

Death a part of my existence here in East Africa. No matter how many life-breathed words over cold, clammy bodies, the caskets seem to pile high. Tiny crosses engraved in the black cloth. Aids a raging killer.

But it is different this time. Years ago they would have been alone. Years ago they would have crumpled like a flag to the ground, and laid there without wanting to go on. They would have begged us to bury them beside her.

I first met Mama Matty a few years ago, the mother of one of the beautiful women in our community.

She used to drag her tired body on run-down buses to Juba to sell herself for a couple dollars more.

I remember because we used to pray for her.

On one of our outreaches with our Imani women, we went to pray for the sick, and Mama Matty let us sit on the red-sanded stoop of her home, looking broken.

We prayed and we spoke words of this Jesus who accepts us as we are.

Who never turns His back on us.

Something happened and Heaven touched her. She gave her life to Jesus and she joined a community of believers at the church. She knew her Jesus.

Mama Matty lost her fight on Friday night and there will be no parades, nothing will mark her epitaph but a pile of stones. To some, she will just be another statistic.

But not to us. It's a sad day for those of us who loved her.

But I watch the way our women hold the grieving, like trees standing firm in the wind. 

I hear them singing in the back of the pickup as we drive from the funeral site. I carry the image of their arms encircling the two orphan daughters and leading them through the tall grass towards home.

And I know that Father has done something here. 

He's sown hope where there wasn't any before.

He's made love to grow where there were only thorns. 

He's put His goodness inside of broken hearts. Hearts that can now help heal others.

And the yellow weeds don't look like weeds anymore.

They look like someone's fruit. 

*Please continue to pray for our community in northern Uganda. That our counseling and love will continue to touch many more so they might know Father's goodness in the midst of despair. Please continue to pray for Mama Matty's daughters.