Thursday, July 29, 2010

Time for goodbyes

The closer it gets to this Monday the more I'm realizing that I'm going to miss this place. I'm not exactly a person who gets nostalgic and gets sad about saying goodbyes, but it's a little bit different when you're quite certain that you won't ever meet these people again on this side of eternity. We haven't started our goodbyes yet, but I'm already dreading it. I have a feeling that when I get home and start to get back to normal life, where everything is still happening here and I'm not doing ministry at home like I am here that I will very easily feel discontent. But all we can do is pray for God's guidance from day to day to know what to do with this experience.

Anna and Judith (our cooks) said the other day that they were feel "much pain" when we leave. Then Judith told me that she wanted me to find her a job in the US. She said she was serious, and wanted to make sure I really would. I didn't know how to respond. It's not that it's a real possibility anyway because it's incredibly hard for an African to get a visa to the US. But she realizes how much more money we make there and that she would be able to provide for her kids and send them to school. I felt that gap between us again. I wish I could take her with me and show her the US, give her money to provide for her children, but that's not the answer. I want them to know that the way people live in the US is not the "right" way to live. We are dying spiritually because of our lifestyles while they have so much life. It just bothers me that people think that our country is a place of deliverance from all problems, where things are like they should be. It's not. The answer is not to help everyone live like us. We're the ones who have it wrong; not caring for our neighbor, living for comfort and success, and always trying to make a name for ourselves. I understand that this is not true in all cases, but our culture probably has more spiritual challenges than theirs.

I'll try to write once we get back to Kampala, but this is probably my last post from Arua. Please pray for us as we are saying goodbye to our friends and trying to figure out what to do with all the things we want to leave behind. It's not as simple as giving it away...cultural dynamics are too communal, so we want to be sensitive to that. Thanks so much for your support in prayer!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Learning to be patient

This past week was frustrating, but an interesting challenge to all of us. First, we went to Aringa parish, up north near the Sudanese border. The area is 90 percent Muslim, 5 percent Catholic, and only about 2 percent Protestant. We only went for a few hours, and weren't scheduled to teach there, but we got to sit and talk with a few of the leaders of the ministries there and hear about what they do.

I wish I could type all that he said, but suffice it to say that it is quite obvious that I am such a baby in my faith compared to these people. As he was talking, I could hear the difference in the way he spoke of God, and how much trust and confidence he put in Him. He said, "To do ministry here, you have to fear neither life nor death. To die is to go straight to Christ, and to live is to serve." They're in the process of translating the Bible into Aringa, so we went to see their program office, which is sponsored by Wycliffe Bible Translators. We went to the home where 2 AIM missionaries were wounded, and were about a kilometer from where 2 were killed a couple years ago. Because of this, they haven't sent many groups up there to minister to those people, but this is exactly where the church needs strengthened the most. Many of the people can't read or write, and they need more teaching and encouragement. Seems to me that Paul and the early church would be going there, but to be quite honest, I don't know if I am in the place where I would be willing to go.

The past couple of days have been very frustrating because of problems with transportation. Vehicles are less than reliable here, and it's not as if we can just take someone else's car. So on Saturday we left our house at 3:30pm, about 8 hours late. We got to Vurra and taught the people who had not gone home already. The next day we woke up at 7 to wait another 4 hours until the car was jumpstarted and we could leave for the secondary school. Then we waited another 2 hours for the program to start. Needless to say, this was very trying on my nerves and in my frustration, I had many thoughts and reactions that definitely were not pleasing to the Lord.

Ministry for us here just looks much different than it does at home. At home, I am used to having to humble myself to serve by cleaning up after people, doing laundry for my parents, loving the person that gets on my nerves the most, or helping with a church event when maybe I'd rather sleep. But here, serving looks more like being willing to be treated as an important person you're not; to eat the goat's meat, greet people at 6:30 in the morning when you just woke up, let the 50 children gathered around to stare at you constantly, or continue smiling when you're being "officially greeted" for the 4th time. It takes patience and strength that I have to pray for each day, and sometimes I miserably fail. But we realized yesterday that we have been able to speak to over 10,000 Ugandans, and that is definitely no small opportunity. Please pray that God continues to strengthen and use us this last week, as going home becomes more and more of a reality.

Can't wait to see you all soon!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I...can't think of a title.

The rest of yesterday was actually really good. We went to a university where we ended up having some extra time just talking to students. I talked to 3 ladies studying business administration and heard their stories. It was a pretty good conversation, and I think I encouraged them a little bit, Lord willing. haha. Then we went to Kuluva hospital. We thought we were going to pray with all the patients, but ended speaking to the nursing students there. It wasn't what we expected, but seemed well-received, and they asked good questions. Then we went through the wards and prayed in each building with the chaplain there. The hospital was clean enough, but the equipment was all totally outdated, the mattresses were torn and the sheets were dirty, and families were sitting on the floor with their babies, all kinds of stuff like that. The incubators for the premies looked like bread boxes with heating lamps in them.That was the only place I really cried. They didn't take us to the malnutrition ward because the last white people they took in there fainted. I wish I could have seen it, just to feel their suffering for once. For some reason God didn't have it in his will...

It's getting difficult to be here for so long, for other reasons than just being away from Shawn and my family...and Kerry, haha. Less things shock me or make me cry, but the reality of daily life of these people just sinks in more and more. We had to walk 20 minutes one way just to buy pork with Judith today, and I was hungry and thinking about the big lunch we were eating when we got back. Then on the way there we saw kids in the guava trees eating unripened fruit during their lunch break at school because they had nothing at home to eat. Nothing in my life will ever compare to what they've gone through. Nothing is convenient or easy here, and hunger is part of normal life that never goes away. I've never been hungry for more than a couple hours in my life, and I can't imagine not being able to just eat whenever I want. But my FRIENDS do that all the time. I just don't know what to do about it. It's so overwhelming. When I get back, my friends here are still suffering and they'll become a more and more distant memory as time goes on. We wouldn't let our neighbors live this way in the US, but who is our neighbor when the world is so small these days?

If there's anything I've learned during my time here, it's that the world really IS broken, and our real hope is in Heaven. Not in good insurance, a nice home, a good job market, whatever. As believers, we are the ones who are called to fix this broken place. That's what it means for us to be make things more of what God would have them be, no matter what field in which we work. It's just that the world I live does not seem to be that messed up, and there's a serious problem with that...

Monday, July 19, 2010

Just some facts

So since we’ve been doing a lot of the same things, maybe I’ll take it a little easy this time and just talk about some fun things that we’ve been seeing and experiencing together. We’re getting to appreciate some of the finer points of the culture while we’re here and soaking in African life as much as possible.

People wake up so early in the morning and go to bed so late at night here. When we stay in the villages, we get to stay with our wonderful Ugandan friends. The morning usually starts with a prayer spoken out-loud around 6:30. Leviticus likes to thank God for another day and covers it with the blood of Jesus before starting it off. Then they sing or hum away while they’re laying in their bed, until they’ve made sure they have a few others humming along. When others are awake, conversation ensues, whether there are other people are awake or not. If that’s not enough to shake you out of your sleep, the roosters start crowing, and sometimes they play large drums or crank up the radio around 7. So in short, sleep isn’t really as valued as it is at home.

Public indecency doesn’t really seem to be an issue either. I’ve lost count of how many naked babies and children I’ve seen, and sometimes people just walk around public areas in towels. Women breast feed anywhere and everywhere. When I asked my friend about this she said, oh it’s just natural. Nobody really pays attention.

Little creatures also grace our presence on a fairly regular basis. Cockroaches crowd the bathrooms, and Kari and I often visit the latrine together and put one on cockroach-scaring duty. Yes, I could use the bathroom pretty much anywhere at this point. Lizards chirp above our heads at night and jump out beneath your feet when you walk through the yard. Then we have our furry little (and not-so-little) friends. Last time I was in a hut for the night, a little one ran across my shoulder during the night. Good thing is was through the mosquito net! We’ve had a furry friend living above our heads at the Cassel’s home since we’ve been here. He made a great appearance on the top of Kevin’s door last night, then ran to the bathroom, which sent me and Kari screaming to the nearest chair we could stand on.

Life is hard here. Cooking one meal can take over 2 hours, and washing laundry is a full day. Kari and I run away when they grab the knife to sacrifice the chicken, but it’s just part of a long process that could take hours. I hope that I don’t ever take for granted the leisure and ease of my life. Some may say that life is more simple here, but it takes way more determination and strength to make it through a single day than we could ever understand at home.

Just a few things we’re seeing here. 2 more weeks! Going to make the most of it, Lord willing.

A day from the USA (July 15th)

Today has been an interesting day. We had evaluation time with Leviticus and James this morning, then went to eat at the nicest hotel in town. It was so different to see things from the Mundo side of Arua, where everything is nice and clean and fancy. All 6 of us had a big lunch, complete with pizza, burgers and fries, milkshakes, and real brewed coffee...all for 40 bucks. Not too bad for the most expensive place in town. But it was nice to talk with Karen, the director of missions for the central region of AIM about how things are going, what we're learning, etc. It was quite a breath of fresh air. We're now at the internet cafe where our friends here are making us pizza for free, just because they like us. It's interesting to see the relationships we're building here in the most random places.

Yesterday we ministered at Otravu secondary school, which had the most interesting dynamic we've seen so far. Everything was funny. Laughing during altar call, serious skits, and the praise songs really confused me. It was hard to keep their attention and it felt like nothing was getting through to them. Then we had a huge response at the end and got to pray with a ton of students. We finally started to understand this dynamic today when we found out that much of the student population was Catholic or Muslim, and that they often laugh to cover up their discomfort. That was really interesting to me, that we made them uncomfortable. I guess that that is a very common dynamic up north, where there is more Islamic influence from the Sudan.

It was also encouraging to hear from Karen why exactly they have made our program the way it is. Sometimes traveling and teaching doesn't seem like the most effective way to reach people. But she explained to us that we have the opportunity to reach a wider group if we do it this way, especially since spending all of our time in one archdeaconry may stir up jealously, rivalry, etc., and it's important that we let the diocese rise up as a group by spreading our influence. She also told us that fresh teaching is very hard to come by, because many of these remote areas have very little exposure to other teaching. Please pray for us, that we would be mindful of this, and only speak what the Lord has for us to say!Thanks for your thoughts, everyone. I miss and love you all and hope to hear from you soon.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Half-way there

This last week was so busy with 2 over-night stays in a row. We spent the last two days in Terego; a church on Saturday and a school on Sunday. The church was very encouraging as we talked with many youth leaders and active youths within the church. They were engaged and asking great questions, and we got some great interaction with them. On the flip side, at the Secondary school we went to yesterday the students were less-than-enthusiastic. They were the most American-like students we've encountered...acting disinterested and unenthusiatic (no offense to interested and enthusiastic teens out there!). It was the first time I really struggled to love the audience and want them to get the message the Lord had for them, as my pride was a little overwhelming. But through prayer, God helped me to stay humble and He spoke through us.

God is still moving and working around us, in us, and through us. But it's getting a little difficult to teach the same things all the time and it not go on auto-pilot. It's very encouraging to know that we are where God wants us to be, but as the sights are getting familiar and cold showers and beans start to get tedious, the mind wants to wander toward home. Please pray for us, that we can keep our teaching fresh, and that we will keep open hearts and eyes to the people and places around us.

Money is the root of all kinds of evil. It has never been so apparent as it is here. I know I keep harping on this, but new things keep coming up which keep it at the front of my mind. It's frustrating to us for everyone around us to associate our skin color with money and power. Friends may not actually be friends, but just want to get to your resources. Even for the ones who are not overtly asking, it complicates the relationship between missionaries and the people they're ministering to. Many missionaries we've met here have nicer houses than any of the nationals, and build big walls with gates all around their home. What a barrier to real relationships! Why would one move to Africa to live at the same standard they do in the US?

At the same time, I have compassion and love for the folks who struggle to be real friends with us. If I had a good friend who was very rich and I was struggling to pay my bills, it would be in the back of my mind as well. So how do we get past this? How can we really minister to people spiritually, emotionally, and physically without the barrier created by money and power? Please pray for us, that we would be able to make real relationships that are fruitful for the kingdom while we're here.

Half-way done, and I can't believe how quickly, yet slowly time has gone. Just trying to soak it all in while I can...

Friday, July 9, 2010

Another week...

Kind of crazy how fast time is going and how slowly at the same time. I'm starting to get used to the sights, smells, and rhythm of life here. The people continue to amaze me, as to how they endure so many trials and struggles, most of which we will never ever have to deal with. The past week we have continued to travel and teach at different churches, secondary, and primary schools. The topics we cover are The Story of God (Creation, fall, redemption, consummation), Living with Purpose, Growing into Christian Maturity, Leadership, and Boy-Girl Relationships. Sean also has a sermon about the Gospel, and we talk about the story of Joseph and temptation with the kids. Depending on the place and time slot we decide what to teach.

The biggest thing that I've been learning the past week is how many layers there are to the issue of poverty. The poverty here in Uganda is crushing. They are 100 years behind in various aspects of their lifestyle. We are sending money and aid to this area continually, but the issue is still not resolved, so....what's the real problem? There are so many economic infrastructures, social constructs, and personal psychological and emotional issues that contribute to poverty. It's totally overwhelming.

At Robu parish this past Tuesday I had the opportunity to pray with a group of women who shared with Kari and I about their lives at home. A few wanted prayer for their children, who have started to drink, do drugs, or are involved in spirit worship. Others wanted prayer for their husbands who were drunks, and they were trying to raise children on their own. Often the husbands have their own crops and don't share the profit or food with their families so the wives have to steal from their husbands and consequently the husbands don't trust their wives. The treatment of women here is decades behind women in the US. But the most amazing thing was that these women all asked for prayer that they would not become angry at their children or husbands, that they would be faithful to God in giving their burdens to him.

This is just one example of the hundreds of things I've seen the past week. So what should we do? Now that I've seen it, I hope I won't be able to live the same way ever again, but what would the Lord have Shawn and I do? And am I even being relevant with what I'm doing here? Questions that need time and prayer...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Village life

So we just returned from our first village visit. Both exciting and frustrating at the same time, for sure.

We went to Uleppi on Tuesday evening and stayed through Wednesday morning. We taught all of our sessions and some of the other people with us and pastors contributed as well. Something I learn more and more every day is that I should never think that anything will go as planned. That is the opposite of the culture here, to actually stick to a schedule or plan. We started about 5 hours late, and went to bed about 2 hours late. But all in all, I believe the teaching went well, considering we were talking to people from the age of 3 to 45!

The biggest frustration for me was the fact that we were treated like celebrities in this tiny little village. They gave us seats in front of everyone, gave us our own latrine to use, and we ate when no one else did. They fed us the most expensive food they could have gotten (sheep), even though they only had the money to feed us twice. There were many little children and I so badly wanted to play with them and hold them, but they were so scared by me being a "mundo" that all I could do was shake their hand. I didn't feel like a real person, and I don't know how to love on people when there's that big of a distance between us. Please pray for us, that we would be able to connect with people in spite of the large gap that naturally occurs between us.

Overall, things are going very well. We love the people that we're working with, and are so blessed with their fellowship. Praise God for godly leadership, and the ministry he's already doing. I'll get back with you all soon :)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Be flexible!

So we're beginning our second week here in Arua. It feels like we've been here a month already because of how packed each day has been and how many people we're meeting and getting to know. Kevin has made a really great movie about our first couple days at

I'm debating what to talk about because there's just so much to say. We spent the last 2 days teaching at a church and secondary school. On Saturday we were at a church in Arua town that is being oppressed by the Muslim population. We were supposed to start at 9, sat around till 10, and started playing with kids until we finally got started at 11:30. Welcome to Uganda. The day didn't go as expected at all, but it was a great learning experience. We ended up having some pretty intense conversation with some church leaders which was very fruitful.

At the church while playing with a kids, I had my first experience with playing and holding little kids with rags for clothes and bloated bellies. Some babies didn't even have underwear, or just roamed around naked. Mothers and fathers have to spend all day working and the 3 and 4 year olds take care of their baby brothers and sisters for the day. While playing with them I just acted natural, smiled and held them. But on looking back at the experience, I began weeping because it broke my heart to actually touch these poor babies. In my head I kept screaming, "LORD, what can I DO?!" I don't know how to really show them Christ's love when I only have 1 hour with them. What is the Gospel for these children who may not even make it to the age of 5? God, help us. I'm overwhelmed and need to trust that he can work through me in the way that he sees fit. That's all I can do.

Yesterday we spent all day working with youth. We had sessions about developing Christian maturity and boy-girl relationships. We also led their service in the morning and Sean preached. The challenges of teaching in this culture are pretty intense: they give very little feedback, and won't tell you if they don't understand what you've said because they don't want to offend you. But the response they gave us after the service was positive and we feel that we were able to glorify God with our actions. Please continue to pray for us as we move forward and continue teaching and interacting with students and church leaders. It gets pretty tiring, but we know that God gives us the strength to keep working.

This week will be very busy. We're going on an overnight trip tomorrow (Tues-Wed) and teaching at another parish. Then we will be making a day trip on Friday and Saturday, one school and one parish. Then we will be leading a service on Sunday. I'm excited to teach more and see new areas of the country, but need God's strength to keep it up. We're really growing in our dependency on the Lord, and these people here keep us in prayer constantly. We know that what we're doing is not by our strength, and that is so freeing and refreshing to be constantly reminded of.

We've been hearing this so much from the kids: God is Good! (All the time!) All the time? (The Lord is good and that is his nature, Woo!) Amen, Amen.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Finally at home...away from home

Made it to Arua! We're currently at a internet cafe that is an hour walk from our home. Pretty crazy. Next time I'm hiring a bike or boda boda!

We're working with a man named Leviticus, who is the director of youth for the diocese, which covers pretty much all of Uganda that lies west of the Nile. We're doing day-long and overnight stays with him at different parishes around the closest districts of the diocese. We're staying on the property owned by the diocese main office, and the whole area around is a little community of people who work for the diocese, and also schools, a health center, and a guest house. Every time I walk around the property I see something new. But it feels very safe, and we're already getting comfortable and familiar with the area.

It's hard because it feels so right to be here, but it's so hard to be away from home. Walking around the compound and taking cold showers and not wearing make up just feels so natural, and like it should be. These people are so focused on prayer, it's awesome. And they're prayers are right on. There's such a healthy dependancy on God that I've already been learning from. The weird thing is that they are very materialistic too, just in the opposite way. We try to assure them that the US is spiritually in just as much trouble, if not more, because of the spiritual death among the all the wealth. Our houses seriously look like mansions, and thinking back to all that stuff I have and all the things we're going to buy for our home someday just about makes my stomach sick. It's going to be a struggle to know how to adapt to life now that I know what it's like to live on the other side. I'm sure that will only get harder as time passes.

Please continue to pray for us. We need support through the Lord from you as we really begin the busy part of our ministry soon and are feeling a little disconnected because of the lack of contact with home. But the Lord is faithful, and already doing many things in us and around us in the midst of our brokenness.



Saturday, June 19, 2010

Jambo, Mzungu!

We made it! And goodness gracious, what a long trip. We got here last night at 1 am Uganda time (which is 7 hours ahead) to conclude our 48 hour journey from New York City to Entebbe, Uganda. For a full explanation of all the insanity, visit our group blog at We're now at the Matoke Inn right outside of Kampala, it's about 10:30 pm, and my brain is spinning literally and figuratively.

First of all, the journey here was crazy and yet turned out to be one of the best learning experiences I've had so far. While standing in line for what seemed like an eternity and riding in shuttles to who-knows-where, we met a lot of very interesting people and learned more about what it means to love people whatever the circumstances and be open to ministry whenever the Lord leads. For some reason, before we left Pearl River I had this idea that I didn't have to start doing ministry until I was actually in Uganda. In my mind, I guess I was saving emotional and mental energy for the Ugandan people.

Boy, was I kicked out of that mindset through the whole experience. We had the opportunity of telling a few people (the ones from the many lines that we stood in) what we were traveling to Africa for, and how we had gotten where we were. From that moment on, I think we all felt the burden of the fact that we were representing Christ to those people around us. We all sucked it up and tried to put our frustrations aside, and ended up having some great conversations with complete strangers, who somehow became our fast friends. We met 2 African couples and 2 young African men in the process, and were able to learn from them. God was so amazing in giving us opportunities to love and learn in what seemed like a pretty crappy situation. That was such a blessing to me, and a great encouragement in looking forward. Yeah, KLM Flight 216!

Please continue to pray for us as we're encountering the culture for the first time, and continuing to get in the right mindset for ministry here. We had a great talk with the cab driver we met today, who was pumped to answer any questions about his home. But we're already starting to hear of the tribal revelry, the oppression of some people groups, and the lack of adequate resources for many things. Please pray that we would be continually seeking God in prayer and in his Word, since this is the only way we will really be able to minister to people in a culture that is not native to us.

I often find myself thinking...What do I have to offer these people? Why am I here when there are people already so many whites here doing ministry, as well as many that are Ugandan. God has begun to show me that I may have had some mixed motives in the whole decision to come. However, I want to trust that God is ultimately the one that has called the four of us to be here, even though I don't know the reason right now. May we continually be pouring out ourselves so that we can be full vessels of God's grace, no matter what form that may take.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

And so it begins....

The first thought that came to my mind as I awoke this morning with a start was, "Holy crap. I'm actually doing this?!"

Pearl River, NY isn't exactly what I expected. Residential, quaint, and yet this office is a little island of a culture all its own. We got here Monday around 2 and began all sorts of sessions about team building, culture, worldview, flight itineraries, and budgets. We got our potential teaching material and started looking over it as well to see what good stuff we could find. It'll take some prayer and a lot of creativity, but we may be able to make it work. :) AIM (Africa Inland Mission) has its own headquarters here with conference rooms, a dining hall, and lots of guest rooms. The people bustle around busily, but take time to stop and talk to you about the goodness of God they've seen through their work. They also don't seem quite as concerned about time, and have staff tea time at 3 everyday. A little mixture of African and US culture, I'd say. But, I'm soaking it in as much as I can and enjoying the flushable toilets and hot running water while it's available!

We leave tomorrow in a taxi at 2 for the airport to fly out at 6:30 from JFK. A taxi to NYC? That experience could be exciting enough for this down-home West Virginian. Anyway, we fly to Amsterdam and then on to Entebbe, Uganda. We'll stay the night in Entebbe, then drive to Kampala where the central office is located for a day of on-field training. THEN we take a 7 hour bus trip to Arua, our temporary home, on Saturday. I'll be glad when we just get there. I'm feeling a bit apprehensive about traveling, and not too excited about all the things that could happen on an international flight...but I'm in God's hands, where He wants me to be. And while we know that that may not always be the safest place physically, our hearts and spirits are safe there.

So many thoughts and questions are racing around my head right now. Most of them have to do stuff I've packed, flight itineraries, and other little details. But we've also been presented with a ton of material and things to think through today about our mission, and why we're here. I've been overwhelmed at times with a sense of inadequacy and ignorance about this trip. I feel completely unprepared and naive about everything at this point. On top of that, my normal support system that I love so dearly is at home.

So here I am, toes over the cliff, just waiting to jump in to Abba's arms. But let me tell you,'s scary. I know I'm supposed to say that I trust God and love him so much that it's like stepping into romantic embrace or something. And hopefully I'll look back and be able to see that it was. But on this end, I'm sweating, crying, and biting my fingernails and asking if He's sure He can catch me. I've just never pushed myself to really rely on him for anything so big. There's nothing wrong with safety nets and a back-up plan, right? Well...what if there isn't. What if I have nothing to teach these people? What if our lessons flop at every school? What if I am incapable of loving them? What if I lose all my belongings and am stranded? What if my health and life are called in to question?

God is still calling me and asking me to do this with him when the answers to these questions are uncertain. I praise him and thank him for the opportunity to do this. It's already shown me so much about where my trust and security is, and how I value my life and comfort. I'm excited to see what else is in store and am so anxious to get there, but I pray that I really take in these lessons first.


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Looking forward

Countdown: 1 week, 3 days. Toothpaste? Check. Soap? Check. More disinfectant and hand sanitizer than I could ever use in 8 weeks? Check.

I thought it might be a good idea to start this whole thing with some thoughts on how I'm feeling looking forward to this crazy adventure to Uganda.

First of all, it's really crazy to think that we've been thinking about this trip and planning it for something like a year and a half. I had heard stories of Uganda, looked at mission organizations websites, watched the Invisible Children movie, seen pictures of the death and starvation, and for some reason my heart almost exploded when I thought about the opportunity to serve there. Looking that far ahead, I really had no concept of what it would be like to actually prepare myself to leave, raise support, or realize I am leaving my comfortable life for 8 weeks.

I think that back then, I just wanted something to shake me out of my comfort zone and force me to face the realities of a world I know next to nothing about. I have always fallen in to the temptation to become content and simply blend in to the world around me. I've been praying that God would use this opportunity to help me see Him in a different way. I want to ask hard questions about the culture I live in and the ways it has affected my understanding of God and humanity, and I want to see and understand the way my brothers and sisters in a very different culture understand and relate to our Father. Needless to say, in looking far ahead, I was thinking mostly about myself (that's certainly never happened before ;) ) and the ways that God and I could grow together through this kind of experience.

A big shift that's happened over the past couple months is the fact that I have much more of a burden for the people of Uganda to know the Gospel by the grace God working through me while I'm there. I know that sounds pretty elementary, and I could easily say that that's been my desire all along. But in reality, I'm actually starting feel the burden for real now. I'm so excited to meet my brothers and sisters and make new relationships where God will be glorified and the love of Jesus Christ can be shared. I want to love them even before I meet them, and keep their eternity, not just mine, in the forefront of my heart and mind.

On top of the changes in my heart and motives, I'm also starting to be a bit more apprehensive about leaving my family and fiance for that long. Granted, when I made these plans to take an 8 week trip there was no Shawn Woods in the picture. But now that there is a Shawn (and aren't we all so pumped that there is? :D), I'm really excited as to the ways this trip can help us to grow together as well. I've never been away from my family for that long either, which is kind of intimidating. I'm sure that this whole experience will give me an opportunity to trust God for my security and fulfillment without those close relationships around me constantly.

Praise God for a challenge, right?