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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Clarity in Grand Rapids

An 8 day vacation turned into an 8 month medical leave of absence.
It has been a long journey, but I see the Lord's hand in so many ways.
I am grateful for six months of quality time with parents.
I am glad that I could be here to mourn with those who mourn.
I'm thankful for good medical and emotional care.
I praise God for supportive mission agencies and churches, friends and family.  
Global Outreach Mission and Resonate Global Mission have prayed for me and encouraged me so much along the way.
Last week I was able to have a good "practise" run for travel and activity.  For almost 5 months I had been having extreme leg pains, especially while spending time sitting in vehicles, but thankfully that has mostly gone away and I was able to travel with ease.  So, flights are being booked for me to return to Soroti, Uganda in early April!!  I'm so excited to be going home.
I can't believe I did a whole winter in Canada.  
 While in Grand Rapids I had a week of visits, fellowship, and closure.  I was able to catch up with many colleagues from Soroti, most of whom have chosen to move back to the States since I left, and I wanted to hear their God stories.  It was great to fellowship, talk, and share together. 
I also went to chapel at Kuyper College and shared with staff there.  I truly value the education and missional direction that I received in such a precious school.
While there I came across a pice of art that I was a part of creating.  These feet were all footprints of former child soldiers with the Lord's Resistance Army, and I remember washing the oil based paint off their feet with kerosene... my bare hands stung for days.  :) 
 I also caught up with cousins, donors, Resonate Staff, friends, and was pampered by my college roomie.
I tried dying my hair purple, but at least the highlights came out beautifully.
 Sorry, just sharing a few glamor shots.  :)
After the week was finished, I felt great and had final confirmations that it is time for me to head back to Uganda.  So, now I am home, packing a few too many bags for flight and praying that the Lord will bless this transition back to Soroti.  There is so much to do when I get back there and I want to make sure that I listen to God's voice during this process.
I need to buy a car.
I will catch up with many friends and ministry partners.
I will have to restock my kitchen.
I'll need to find my way around the market, since the old market has been torn down and set up further away.
I will buy a postcard in Kampala and send a letter to my doctor... because that was her final prescription for me - "Take painkillers to get home and send me a postcard from Kampala".  (But I'm thinking of buying the postcard in Soroti, because apparently it's a new thing for the local post office to have these cards and they are missing me.  The staff keep asking my colleagues when I am coming back because they are just not selling stamps like they used to when I was there.)

Thursday, February 15, 2018

My Memories of Fred Thielke

On this deeply foggy evening, I am sitting back and going through all of my old photo albums to gather a few precious photos of the Fred Thielke I knew and loved.  I thought I would share them with you... and maybe if you want to leave comments at the bottom of this blog, others can also see how their world was affected by this energetic, fun-loving, adventurous friend of ours!
While at missions orientation last week, we had a workshop on missionary kids (MK's) and third culture kids (TCK) and how intertwined their lives are in regards to culture, language, thinking, and relationships.  I have found that even though I do not have children of my own, some MK's have truly found their way into my heart.  Fred Thielke is one of those.  
When I was growing up, Fred's Dad was my senior pastor, and I remember going to their house to study the catechism, while Fred ran around in diapers and learned to talk.  I guess that means, I have really known this man my whole life, and so when I heard the news the other day of his passing, I broke down and cried.  
Fred Thielke has been living in Mexico for the past few years, working with the US Embassy there.  Earlier this week he was climbing with a friend, on the highest mountain in Mexico - the Pico de Orizaba.  Apparently he fell, and was in and out of consiousness while the Mexico rescue teams tried to evacuate him in bad weather conditions.  Sad to say, he didn't survive the accident.  My heart is sad... and it bleeds for his family.
Here are a few shots of our time together over the years.
From 2001-2004 I worked in the Philippines... and was blessed to work alongside the Thielke family for two of those years.
I joined the Theilke family for a holiday in Thailand;
Fred and I hung out a lot during our time there.

He makes friends with everyone.  :)

I think Fred learned to hug lots from the Filipino culture that so deeply shaped his life.  

Fred always cherished adventure and creation.

We were both in the bridal party for good friends in Manila.

He loved his brothers!

He was so helpful... a great leader... I saw that while leading
a Summer Missions Program in Tacloban city.

Hard working and full of smiles!

Fred was like family to me... my little brother!
A missionary nephew.

Many people loved hanging out with him.

He always seemed fearless!

Oh Fred!

Me and my brothers...
I mean... Fred and his brothers - Tim and Matt

Family dinner in India

A tight trio

So affectionate.  :)

He cherished his cousins too.

Hanging out... 

He made my day when he traveled two hours to come hear
me share stories of serving in the Philippines.

Fred with his extended family in Canada
I don't know what more to say.  He was so full of life.  He loved deeply.  Explored completely.  And will be missed by so many.

There will be a memorial service for Fred Thielke on March 3, 2018 at Community CRC in Kitchener, ON, Canada.
Dwayne, Gladys, Tim, and Matt Thielke... I am praying for and with you!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Orienting new Candidates to the World of GOM

For the past few months I have been looking forward to going to the Global Outreach Mission office in St. Catharines, ON, and being a part of the orientation process for new candidates.  I wasn't sure if I would have the energy to make it through the whole week, but I thank God for the strength I had there.  This year was a small group of trainees and every one of them was heading to Africa.  Yeah!!
Throughout our week together we had a full schedule of seminars - dealing with Finance, Personel, Development, Transitions, Missionary Kids, Partnership tools, Policy, Awesome Newsletters, Legal stuff, Team work, Member Care, Social Media, Mission software, ministry profiles, and Photography.  We were encouraged to take some RSDI throughout the week as well.  "RSDI" = Rock Solid Digital Image... so here are a few that I want to share with you, to tell my story.
To every tribe, tongue, and Nation... (Amanda's RSDI!)
Presenting Biblical Dramas
 Every day I opened our sessions with a time of devotions and I was able to share God's Word through some dramatic readings.
We stayed at an amazing Retreat B&B!!
The Woman at the Well
"Telling God's Story"
Popcorn is always needed for a good missions movie!

Earning Dodson Dollars... and winning a can of meat at the end of the week.
 I was considered the "Missionary in Residence" so I was able to bring lots of advice, clarity, encouragment, questions, and love from a missionary position.  I pray that my presence there was an inspiration to both the office staff and those going out on the field.
A Concert of Prayer
 Every orientation involves a time of praying for the mission field, His Workers, and just praising God for who HE is, confessing and relieving our burdens, and resting in His presence.
For me... I leave Toronto
And serve in Uganda
 Most of the week is spent stuck in the board room, having discussions and power point lectures or presentations, but at least one night we can escape and see God's majesty around the corner!
A very cold Niagara Falls
"The Works of His hands!"
Another trainee heading back to Uganda!!

The American falls

I love this World 

Sitting in class
One of my biggest roles was to be a proxy for Tina, another candidate who was unable to travel to the office because of pregnancy.  Tina and I communicated through a video conference the whole week and I made sure to voice her questions or comments to the group.  She too is going to be in Uganda... so I'm excited to have some new GOM team-mates on the field.  
Tina in Boston :)

Teamwork... it's hard to build without a plan or communication

God's Word is our constant Lamp
All the new candidates left with lots of food for thought!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

"Let's Talk"

Today hundreds of posts are scrolling through my social media sites... highlighting "Bell's - Let's Talk" campaign and sharing the fact that mental illness is real.  Today... I am saying that too!!

For the past few weeks I have really been struggling mentally, and it could be from so many reasons:

1. I don't have answers yet to the blood thinners and blood clots... I saw the doctor again this morning and she is having further discussions with an internal medicine specialist and a haematologist.  The doctor also said she would like to do another chest and leg doppler ultrasound test - to see what my new baseline for health is - since I have reach the six month mark since my first pulminary embolisms.

2. I went from being an extreme extrovert, completely surrounded by people - to being a shut-in for the past few months, often home alone, without a vehicle, from Monday to Friday.

3. Since I am slowly recovering from surgery, I no longer am as sick or in as much pain as I was (which is awesome!!) but every small pain - chest, legs, arms, stomach - makes me wonder if something is still wrong, or if this is normal?!  I am having a lot of muscular pains because I just can't get out into the cold weather.

4. Family members have been fighting other medical issues, which are also on my heart and mind.

5. My life in Soroti was just put on hold six months ago and I don't know when I will exactly get back.  I've never had that before... I always know my dates of returning, but right now I want to return when I feel good and have all the medical answers.

6. Sometimes I feel dizzy or get funky eye strains... but as of yesterday, I am now the proud owner of reading glasses... that may change the dizziness and headaches.  Or maybe it's because I had four cavities and a crown to be replaced.  I will finish up all of my dental work on Friday.

7. So many changes have taken place in Uganda without me being there.  The market has been torn down.  My car is barely crawling in service now, so I will need to go car shopping as soon as I reach Uganda.  Ministries have been put on hold.  Mice are living in my house.  Mr. Chaps, the kitten, has finished his nine lives.  Team-mates have moved back to the States.  And so much more...

8. I'm nervous to fly again... alone... what if I have another blood clot. Will I be okay in Uganda?  But I'm taking all the precautions - aspirin, compression socks, lots of water, walk around... I will be okay.

So... do I feel good?  Well... no.  Physically I am almost there, but not having much purpose at the moment and feeling shut-in have made days tough for me and tears are always present or on the edge of falling.  I need a departure date!

I want to feel good.
I want to go home.
I need your prayers!!

But really - I am okay!  I trust in God's plan.  I know He has me resting for this time.  I will be fine, it's just a tough season.  Some people are shocked when I even share my mental struggles while I do my church presentations... but mental health is real and I don't think we should hide behind it.  It truly helps to TALK.  

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

A Train Trip and Fellowship

I have been enjoying my home service rounds of going to my supporting churches while I continue to recover from surgery.  
This past weekend I traveled all the way up to Williamsburg CRC.
For the first time ever, I took a train in Canada.  :)  It still took 7 hours to get there, but what a better way to travel than driving.  My legs were hurting by the time I got to Williamsburg, but I was glad to be picked up by a great acquaintance... who became a better friend over the weekend.
I stayed for 3 nights in Williamsburg and had the opportunity to once again fellowship with the church.  I always love sharing what God is doing in my life and in Uganda.
On Monday I was also invited to do a one hour presentation at a tiny Christian school.  They were having a snow day, but 17 kids were excited to learn more about missions and Uganda.
I loved it that I could get to know more families in a deeper way - to laugh, cry, and share together.  Being with fellow Christians is always a blessing.
Traveling home yesterday I had a little layover in Toronto.
 So I escaped the train station to go see the CN Tower of course.
 It was still super chilly down town.... -23 has been the harshest.  -3 is more manageable.
 Today I have been feeling a little more energetic and took a hike at the local park.
 Frost frame
 Bones came out to play too!
 Trying to enjoy the simple pleasures of being in Canada
 "My home and native land"