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Monday, June 29, 2009

On African Time

For months I have been talking with my neighbour lady, who runs a hostel for girls who are boarding for school in Soroti. This semester Sarah has 68 girls living on her compound and she feeds them 7 days a week. We had been planning on having the girls come to a Bible study at my house and it was supposed to start tonight. I planned for the 7 pm Bible study, but when no one was here by 7:05pm I walked across the street to say hello to Sarah and the girls. She introduced me to one of the high schoolers who will make a great leader. She apologized that the girls were studying hard tonight and would not be able to make it to Bible study until next week. They were bring me a list of all the girls who would attend, so we could start in a more orderly fashion.... and so the saga continues. Ministry is postponed for a week.

But in the mean time, I was able to hang out with the girls more and had a wonderful conversation with Sarah. She is a very giving lady, as she runs a hostel, a business, and has three children who are all in school. And school is not cheap here, especially when you put your children in boarding as well. I enjoyed roasted corn with her and the family before heading home around 7:45pm.

When I got in the gate, my guard jokingly said "Hey, I almost shot you!" and we both had a good laugh. I am coming to appreciate Timothy more and more everyday and so glad that he is here in the evenings. Tonight we talked for 45 minutes about village life and dowries, and hopefully some day soon I will be able to stay with him and his family for a few days in the village. Rural life is totally different than town life. I look forward to that trip.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Birthday Celebrations

Tim and I were able to share our birthdays and it was just like my childhood. My brother Brian's birthday is June 26th and we used to share parties as kids. Now I get to share them with my team leader - Tim, as his is the 26th. So on Friday night we had a party at his house.
We were so exited about our huge candles.
Avalien and Lydia were of course delighted to wear party hats!
Moses and Avalien made me a very special poster.
I have a feeling I laughed that night. (O, I just learned that one of my neighbours recently found out that I have a loud laugh - they couldn't figure out where the hyenas were at night and they were a little scared. :) )
And then on Saturday morning I was blessed with breakfast in bed... an old family tradition.
Sarah, Josiah and Amos
and Stephanie joined me for crepes and sausages.
Then at 7:30 am, on my birthday, Lawrence, Tim, and I headed back to the village to collect more bodies. We just shook our heads at how long it has taken for child soldiers, innocent victims, LRA rebels, and others to receive a proper burial.
Tim has been documenting all of the work being done in the village. On this day I actually took a corpse out of the ground with my bare hands as one farming family watched. They were too superstitious to touch the body, but they really felt that it was disturbing their garden. It was an LRA soldier in full uniform and I had the honour of placing him in white cloth.
Here is Lawrence carrying a body back to the van. We were singing together the song "You did not wait for me, to draw near to You, but You clothed Yourself in frail humanity..." and it made me think about how precious life is, how no one knows the time they will die, and yet, Christ gave His life so that I can KNOW for certain I will spend eternity with HIM!!
And then here is Lawrence at the end of the day, joining our whole mission team for a picnic on a rock. Yep, at 4pm 11 of us cramped into the Sliedrecht mobile and went hiking up a rock before going back to my house for a campfire in the pouring rain. We ended up eating hotdogs indoors by candlelight because the power went out.
Here are Sarah and Rachel coming down the rock. And at the end of the day I just thanked the Lord for His goodness. His beauty surrounds me here in Africa and today I really felt loved.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Mass Graves

LRA victims and uncompleted mass graves....
This morning a bunch of us headed out to the village of Obalanga to assist the local chairman in pick up the remains of LRA victims and bring them to a mass grave site. The mass graves already have almost three hundred bodies in them, but they have remained unfinished for quite a while. Some of the bodies have been left in fields or under trees for the past three to six years. The Lord’s Resistance Army rarely left a skull in full form, in order to make sure the person was dead, so we didn’t see any skulls on the first two bodies we gathered and placed in white sheet. A third body we watched a group of men dig for and everything was there – bones and clothing. It was a very thought provoking day for me.
The mass graves are soon to be completed. Many bodies are placed in one whole.
As we walked through the long grass I really thought about the young men who just a few years before were running through these fields - either running for their lives or joining rebel forces.
I collected the bones of the second body we found.

We tried to find as many bones as possible for each body.
" A full grown man in a small piece of cloth."

Monday, June 22, 2009

Murchison Falls

Once again I was blessed (I don't say "spoiled" in Africa because that means I have been taken advantage of sexually, so blessed is the word.)! I was able to join the group from Grand Rapids as they went on a two day safari to Murchison Falls. Absolutely stunning!
One of these tough hippos even rocked our boat... he was resting under the water when we drove over him.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Funny and not so Funny

There have always been two village hens in our yard. They are black and lay wonderful eggs with bright yellow yolks. Most town hens lay eggs with a very pale yolk - it almost looks like just egg whites when they are cooked. Well, on Wednesday night a neighbour brought over a white chicken to say thank you for a donation of crayons and paints. Well, no one else knew how to hold a chicken, so it was handed to me at the kitchen table. I carried it outside, had his feet untied and then Timothy, the guard, checked for ticks. We decided to put it in our lovely chicken coop with the other village hens. When I was placing the chicken in his box, Timothy said, "Wow, look at that - An American chicken and a Ugandan!" It was very funny.
Last night I picked up a new team-mate from the airport in Entebbe. By midnight we were pulling in to our hotel room and this was the scene as we walked into the room. Rachel said, "It looks like Fairyland!"

This was our flat tire today as we drove the six hours back to Soroti. It was smoking by the time we stopped.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Papa, I Shot a Birdie Today

Today my compound was filled with people all day because there were trainings happening in our garage. During the lunch hour many people were hanging around outside and we were explaining how to play golf to one of our new friends. The team had brought three golf balls and a putter with in their suitcases, so I was shooting around the yard.
One of the team-mates challenged me to hit the monkeys at the other side of the yard. Well, (Dad - you would be proud) I lined up super straight and the ball had some great steady lift off. Who knew that about 17 people would be watching at the time as the ball went sailing through the air and hit one of Tim's precious chickens? It knocked him in the butt and he squawked at me, but all was well. The crowd howled and I tried to see if Tim was watching or if I got away with it... but he saw and the laughter continued.
This was a refreshing moment in day full of activities - please see the other blog update that I wrote for the Plymouth Heights Team.

Plymouth Heights Team

Hey friends... here is a blog entry I wrote for the Plymouth Heights team staying at my house... they were all too tired to write, so I updated it for them. :)
Greetings friends of the Plymouth Heights team.
I, Karen Lubbers, an International teams short-termer, wanted to write to you today. I have been hosting your wonderful team ever since they arrived. I had the privilege of picking up your group of nine from the airport and introducing them to Uganda. For the past week they have been living in the guest house with me – for that is my home. The team has been a joy to serve!! And they are blessing us immensely.
Today was another diverse day. Carolyn continued her teachings on the Book of Philippians and many of the attendees are asking amazing questions or sharing relevant stories about joy in suffering. Bob started part one of a Business seminar, which will hopefully give people a small grasp on how to start a business or continue on with one wisely. Ernie continued on with handyman projects at Amacet, the orphanage. Most of the gang also went back to Amacet throughout the day to play with babies and rejoice in the small steps. Babies who couldn’t crawl a few days ago from weakness are now giggling and scooting around. Laughter, singing, and encouragement is all happening at the orphanage.
A few members of the team spent the day pondering how the Lord is working in Uganda, praying for the nation, and for the many people they have met. Tonight we witnessed a miracle... a baby that looked like it was on the verge of death yesturday in Karamoja arrived in Soroti today with it’s head held high and clarity in it’s eyes. Tomorrow the baby will see a doctor for a full examination.
This evening we all watched “An Unconventional War” and we just shook our heads at the horrors of a spiritual war that has been happening in Uganda for over two decades. Why have we never really heard or been educated on the happenings of the LRA and Joseph Kony? The brutality. The destruction of innocence for young boys and girls.
Please pray for the continued healing of Uganda as a nation... as they still recover from war.
Please continue to pray for the team as they serve for two more days in Soroti before beginning their journey south.
To God be the Glory!
Karen Lubbers

Sunday, June 14, 2009

I'm loved

This morning I had to bike to my church for the first time. Usually I travel with my team-mates, but they were out of town, so I biked to Pamba Baptist church and arrived 25 minutes before the service was ready to begin. I was completely surprised and blessed by the welcome I received. Pastor Francis came out and gave me a hug and then when I walked in to the tiny church all the children came up and greeted me with a slight bow and a sweet handshake. Then about 10 women got up and also gave me big hugs.
During prayer and testimony time I shared about my trip to India and also how it was good to have a church to call home now. Pastor prayed for me for quite a few minutes and it was a real blessing. And then, when it was time to go off to another building for Sunday school, 75 kids followed me and were delighted that I was back. They truly missed their muzungu teacher. Four of the older girls even did a song presentation with "Welcome Back Karen"! It was just a good day to feel loved.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


This morning I had to bike into town to grab a few groceries for the team that is staying at my house. It was my first time back to OM Supermarket since being in India, so I remembered to bring with me a little gift that I had brought the store owners from India. The store owners are Indian also, and they helped me get my Indian embassy things organized and they were almost more excited about my trip than I was.

Well, I walked into the store and right away saw Veba. She hardly speaks any English, but I gave her the small gift and she gave me a huge hug. I went on to buy a few boxes of cereal, yogurt, and bread and when I was paying for these few groceries, one of the young guys said that I was wanted at the back of the store.

Veba and Seetu have their home at the back of the store. Veba welcomed me in to sit on the bed, the only furniture in the room, and have a cup of chai and a spicy chapati. It was really a special time for me. We spent ten or so minutes trying to talk to eachother in very broken English. I showed her my left hand which was covered in henna tattoos... and then I noticed her right hand. Most of her fingers were covered in a very red dye. When I asked her what it was, she said she puts the dye on the head of her Hindu god every morning.

Once again I realized why the Lord has placed me in Uganda. There are still many people who do not know the truth of Jesus Christ. I hope that Veba and I can meet more often, as she wants to improve her English and maybe I will be able to more clearly share with her the love of God. Seetu also came in to the back room and with a big smile on his face, greeted me back to Soroti. A very sweet couple and wonderful business people. I respect them a lot. I left Veba when a friend of hers came to visit.... there was no way I could understand Hindi, so I made my exit and continued on running errands in town.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Goal ball

Back in Action: For the past few days I have been sharing my home with nine others and they are busy learning about our lives and ministries. My team leaders have completely filled their schedule with amazing and thought provoking experiences.
So this morning Francis travelled to my house from the village. He was an LRA child soldier and he came to share his amazing story - of war, rescue, and the love of God. He was delighted to receive a Bible from the group.
Then in the afternoon we went to visit some of the local blind neighbours. They spoke to us about the work that they are doing - knitting, orchards, independence skill training, etc. After an hour of talking to them at their place, we invited six of the blind to come over and play Goal ball.

Three people lined up on each side of the rectangle and through a beeping ball at eachother.

If the one side could get the ball past the people on the other side, then a point was scored.

Those of us who could see were blind folded and it made for a very interesting game.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Wedding in India

I flew to India on May 30th to attend the wedding of Fred Thielke and Helga Joshua. Fred was a friend of mine from the Philippines.
I was able to visit a palace with a bus load of wedding guests.
Resting at the palace.

Here are my brothers from the Philippines. Fred, Matt, and Tim Thielke.
Showing off my Indian attire.
This is the area where three sources of water meet... Bay of Bengal, Arabian Sea, and the Indian Ocean. I was pretending to be in all three water sources at once.

Andrew, another guest, and I were the only friends that flew in on the groom's side, besides family. It was truly special.
We looked "Smart"!
All the girls got henna tattoos on their left hand.... mine is slowly fading away.
Rowena, Corrita, and myself.
Hello everyone!
We were able to play with and ride elephants. Rowena, who had never left the Philippines before, really wanted to see elephants, so we planned a secret day trip for her to be able to rid elephants. In order for Rowena to not find out what we were doing, we kept saying that we were going to find chickens. Big chickens, with tumors on their faces. :)
Getting my tattoo painted. O ya, Bones, my teddy bear came to India for some more exploring. He hopes to write a book this year.
Matt, Andrew, and I squish in to an auto rickshaw, which we called "tuk tuks" to get around Trivandrum, in the southern part of India.
All in all, an amazing 8 days - with trips to temples, a bamboo boat ride, elephants, shopping, and a ton of curried food.