8.30.2012

Bussi Island {Uganda}

Oh, how to begin? 36 hours I will never forget.

We boarded a wooden boat...basically an oversized, motorized canoe for the 45 minute ride across Lake Victoria.



We arrived on the shore of Bussi, a remote, undeveloped island. We were so warmly greeted by the people. White people are a rarity on the island and for many, this was the first time they had ever seen white children.


We boarded our truck, a cargo truck converted to carry people. It was a bumpy, adventurous ride to the school.


I had been praying and anxiously awaiting this day for so long...I could barely contain my mix of emotions. Excited, giddy, emotional, nervous.

We reached the school and saw all the children. They had created a welcoming line, complete with costumes, banners, music and dancing.






Who are we to deserve such a welcome? I was so overwhelmed I thought my heart might leap out of my chest.

After we had greeted the children, we made our way into one of the school buildings where the teachers introduced themselves and the school choir sang several welcoming songs.

Then we went out to the school yard where we did some VBS-style teaching, skits and worship.


 We gave gifts.




we spent some time playing with the children.


There were dragonflies everywhere.


The school day was over and we made our way through the village. We met Norah, the grandmother and caretaker of 6 children. She used to live here.


Which is now the kitchen because, thanks to the people at Redeemed of the Lord Evangelistic Church, she lives in her new brick home.

She is also the proud owner of this pig.


She will care for and breed the pig in order to support her family. I was so impressed and challenged by the way Redeemed ministers to those in need.

We made our way through the rest of the village. I so enjoyed talking with the women from the church. These are powerful, strong women. I was strengthened by being with them.


We came to the football (soccer to us) field. Our team & teachers from the school challenged the villagers to a game.


We were thankful we had some help...these people don't mess when it comes to football!



A few of us had the foresight to know we had no business on the field! We played with some of the children instead.

We had an outdoor service that evening, on the shores of Bussi Island.



We were able to pray for many people that night. I had the privilege of praying for Norah.

After dinner that night, we sat around the campfire, in the dark, and sang our thanks to the Lord. At one point I stopped singing, I was so overcome by the beautiful sound of our team's voices combined with these wonderful Ugandan people.



We took time to pray for each other before settling in for the night. We slept in the teachers' house...that they had given up to accommodate our team.


Caleb actually slept in a separate house that night, with some of his new Ugandan friends from the church. That kid never ceases to amaze me!

Many of us were challenged by the knowledge that these people would go to sleep much later than us and they were awake before us...one host pacing and praying outside of our home, the others preparing our breakfast. They were amazing hosts.

We took a tour of the school that morning.





This is the school library.


We then boarded our boat for the ride back to Kampala. I cried as we left...my heart breaking for the people of Bussi Island and at the same time so overwhelmed and thankful for the new friends we made. One of the hardest things about these trips is the wondering when, or if, I'll ever see these people again. As these feelings were flowing over, I was also struggling with the intense feeling that we hadn't done enough. How could we be done already? I wasn't ready to leave Bussi Island. Brad lovingly took my hand and said "We'll see these people again".

I pray that's true.

 

photos credited to a few of our wonderful team members: Angela White, Jonathan Moos, Krista Bobo & Katherine Hughson

8.29.2012

{31 Lessons Learned the Hard Way} :: Lesson 1~Fake Christianity Isn'tWorth It

I've been a "Christian" for 16 years. Well, I went to church when I was little and understood as much as a little girl could. But then I stopped going and didn't think about God
or Jesus
or the sacrifice made
for many years.

When He called me back into relationship with Him, it changed everything.
My friends,
my lifestyle,
my future plans.

I was completely sold out for Jesus and the main way I showed this was through an active role in ministry. I started by showing up early for youth group. I would vacuum floors, help straighten chairs. Eventually, this grew into a full time internship. Us interns, we worked looong hours. We were the first ones to show up and the last ones to leave...at youth group and any other event that happened at the church.

Four years down the road, I married my husband and I assumed this lifestyle even more. Long hours, life consumed by ministry and God's people.

The thing that I skipped in my journey toward a Christ-devoted life was a regular, daily RELATIONSHIP with Jesus. I had heard it many times from the platform: "Christianity is relationship based. He wants your heart before your works."

And I believed it. And I thought I was living it. Until several years later, when life became hard and I realized I didn't have His Word hidden in my heart. I had been relying on corporate worship times to provide the "relationship" part. I DID pray. I DID worship. And I know God was speaking and I know I was listening.

But was it consistent? No. Was I allowing for time with just the two of us, away from the wonderful music and the worship leader with the great voice? No. Was I praying on my own, without the help of the guy on the microphone, telling me what to pray for? No.

It was during an 18-month time that we spent away from our home church that I began to learn how to actually have a relationship with God. (Isn't that amazing?? We get to have a relationship with God!! It still takes my breath away...)

We were away from home. We were uncomfortable, unsettled...struggling financially and feeling a bit isolated. We were away from home and our home was dealing with an extremely difficult situation. The church was in crisis and our (extended) family was right in the middle of it.

The pastor of the church we were currently serving talked about reading through the Bible in a year. He passed out calendars that had Scripture references for each day of the year. In addition, he would preach from the weekly reading at our mid-week service.

I took on the challenge. For the first time, I knew I could open my Bible and know what to read. It may seem so simple to you but for me this was a brand new concept. So every morning I woke up a bit earlier than my children, made my way to our adorable, southern front porch (oh, how I miss that front porch!) and read my Bible.

And it began to transform me. I was waking every day to talk to GOD. And He spoke to me through His Word.


It's been several years now and this habit has continued. I'll be honest and let you know that it doesn't happen every single day. Life happens...sometimes we were up at night with a sick child or I accidentally overslept...and I am thankful for God's grace and the fact that He already knows me and knows that my heart and intention is to spend time with Him. I do my best though, and most mornings it happens. One thing that pastor had said that really brought freedom to the topic is that if I miss a day, I don't have to try to catch up. Each day is it's own and I don't beat myself up for missed days.

This habit has now developed into a (mostly) daily routine of reading, praying and listening. It has become my lifeline. Life is stressful and hectic sometimes and I am not the most patient, gracious person on my own. I need His help and guidance to make it through the day!

Sometimes I wonder if I really even knew Him back then. I knew OF Him and I experienced being AROUND Him, but it wasn't as personal as it is now. Most likely I'll look back on this time and think the same thing. Much like my relationship with my husband, my relationship with God will continue to grow and develop. I'm thankful that life is full of growth and challenge. It's never boring!

I don't want to just go through the motions. I don't want to live a typical, nicey nice life. Sometimes I get so excited, just sitting in my living room. I get to meet with the Almighty, Huge, Awesome Creator of the Universe! He tells me things that make me excited! He makes me feel special, cared for, LOVED. He speaks to me about purpose. About vision. About hope.

What's even more amazing is that this kind of relationship is available, equally, to each and every one of us!

What has your process been like? Were you late in the game like me? Or did you learn this from early on? Are you reading this and thinking I'm crazy? I would love to hear about where you are on the journey...
 

This post is part of the series {31 Lessons Learned the Hard Way}~~ read about the what & the why here.

8.27.2012

{31 Lessons Learned the Hard Way}


A new series. Or I should say, my first series! Some of my life lessons...mommy lessons, wifey lessons, ministry lessons, and some not so serious lessons. Mondays and Wednesdays. (Yikes! Now that I've said it I have to do it, huh?) I have been challenged to write these down and it's one of the hardest, scariest things I've ever agreed to do. I am going to be honest, transparent, real. I'm going to write and say some things that may seem familiar to you, some that you've experienced yourself. I'm also going to share stories, feelings and emotions that I've never said publicly before.

Will you join me? Read along and feel free to share your thoughts as we go (right down there at the bottom of the post, by click on the "comments").

As you're reading along, if you'd like to share this series with others, you can easily "grab" the button over there on the right and post it on your blog or website.

I'll still be sharing about other topics...my Uganda posts and home projects and occasionally just events and craziness from around our home. So it won't ALWAYS be hard stuff!

Ok! There it is!

 

Read more ::
Lesson 1~Fake Christianity Isn't Worth It 
Lesson 2~It Goes Beyond Skinny 
Lesson 3~Nobody's Above the Fall 
Lesson 4~The Work is About the People
Lesson 5~God is the Ultimate Family Planner Part 1
Lesson 6~God is the Ultimate Family Planner Part 2 
Lesson 7~Let the Kids Speak for Themselves 
Lesson 8~Imperfection is Worth the Help
Lesson 9~My Life is My Offering
Lesson 10~An Open Door is Better 
Lesson 11~Give Up
Lesson 12~I'm the Thermostat Part 1
Lesson 13~I'm the Thermostat Part 2
Lesson 14~There are More Stars in the Sky 
Lesson 15~A Little Absence is Good 
Lesson 16~A Little Headache Goes a Long Way
Lesson 17~The Balance of the People Pendulum
Lesson 18~How I Found Myself in Uganda Part 1 
Lesson 19~How I Found Myself in Uganda Part 2 
Lesson 20~Sometimes You Just Need to Laugh
Lesson 21~We Are Family
Lesson 22~We're Meant to Walk in the Light 
Lesson 23~The Right Man is Worth the Wait
Lesson 24~God Has Mercy on Indecisive Guys
Lesson 25~To Thank Him in All Seasons 
Lesson 26~The Good Guy Always Wins 
Lesson 27~Sometimes the Answer is No
Lesson 28~The Best Gift I Can Give

8.24.2012

{Uganda} Sunday Services

One thing that was so fun about our team this year was that it was made up of worship leaders. We had choir members and band members and some who are very comfortable leading on their own. This allowed us the opportunity to participate in church and worship services. On our only Sunday in country, we split the team in the morning.

Half of us went to Christian Life Church. This is the church that runs the two orphanages we visited. The day we were there they were having a "barbecue" for the church members. They fed thousands of people...people who may not otherwise have had a meal that day. We had the opportunity to share a few songs and testimonies during worship. Our church has a lot of history with this church and we are always so excited to connect with them.

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The other half of our team spent the morning at Redeemed of the Lord Evangelistic Church. This church was so incredibly hospitable and warm in their interactions with our team. They arranged for our lodging, meals and all of our transportation. I knew from our interactions over email that these were some amazing people and they definitely didn't disappoint. Their passion for the Lord and desire to reach people (especially children) all over Uganda made such an impact on our team.


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Our team joined back together after lunch and spent the evening worshiping at Redeemed. It was such an amazing night. We had our team (including our children) and their team together on the stage. Their choir joined with our choir. Our band members joined with theirs. We danced (they can DANCE!) and sang and shared stories. At one point during the night, I almost forgot we were in Uganda, worshiping with people from another culture. There was such a comfort and a unity that night. It was definitely a night I will remember forever.







I couldn't help but think that's what heaven will be like...all different people from all different nations and parts of the world...all united in vision and purpose and heart and spirit....

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Join me next week as I share about our time on Bussi Island...a remote Island in the middle of Lake Victoria. For many of these people, our children were the first white kids they'd ever seen! Our time there was soo fun and wonderful...I can't wait to tell you about it!

 

photo credit 1~Krista Bobo 
photo credit 2~Angela White

8.08.2012

Safari in {Uganda}

After our crazy, wonderful first day (which was really day 4 if you include travel), we left Lira early for Murchison Falls.



Murchison Falls is where the Nile River forcefully pushes through a canyon, creating a breathtaking view.







Our hotel was a lodge which overlooked a calmer part of the river.


The entire two days, I was just so in awe of God and His amazing creation.

We drove and saw many animals including giraffe, elephant, many species of antelope, warthogs, buffalo, baboons and different birds.




Some of my favorite are these large Obsidian Hornbill. They mate for life...awww...



At one point we watched this guy walk straight to our bus and pass in front of us.














I loved seeing all of these animals in their natural habitat. My heart races just writing about it. There is such a peace about these animals...like they all know the order of things and what their purpose is. So unlike me on some days...

Early on our second day, I walked out onto the patio of our room to watch the sunrise. I was so taken by the sounds of all the insects and birds. I decided to video it and this is what happened (make sure your sound is turned on!)...

video


Crazy, right! I later learned that the hippos were out for feeding and that no, he wasn't interested in eating ME. He was just expressing his thanks for a full tummy...I think...??

The second day we boarded a two-decker boat for a cruise down the Nile.



We saw many hippos, crocodiles, buffalo and birds...










We ended the cruise by hiking to the top of the falls. This was by far one of the best experiences of my life. We were soaked by the time we got to the top. The rapids are so strong!




I am again just so humbled and amazed at the adventures that God takes me on! I am so thankful and excited for more!

All day, I had this song going through my head...



It was truly an amazing experience.

Next week I'll be sharing about our ministry in Kampala! See you then!

Photos courtesy of some wonderful team members...Krista Bobo, Jonathan Moos, Katherine Houghson, Jeremiah Skuya and Caleb Parsley