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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Childhood Home

Standing on the steps of the old town hall in the hamlet of Whitechurch, I gaze across the street and glimpse my childhood home. It felt rather strange to be looking at the house where I spent the first 23 years of my life. After being gone for 12 years it's almost easier not to see the old home.

This is the view of the front of the house.

This sign is the saddest reminder of days gone by. A running joke, and yet it hurts. This sign post used to host a sign that advertised my father's cabinet keeper business. Over the years I have seen this sign frame hold clothes for a garage sale or just remain bare. And I only have one question... why has the sign post never been removed.

Here is the view I spotted from the steps of the town hall. My bedroom was the second one in from the top left... I wonder if it is still a pastel pink room with green and brown carpet.

And this is papa's shop - a place where we spent many hours using our hands and some fun equipment to build wooden things of beauty. The smell of sawdust still brings happy memories to my mind.

"Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of your deeds."
Psalm 73:23-28
Celebrating 25 years of marriage with neighbours I used to babysit for was a blast. Being invited over to an older set of next door neighbours was quite cozy, but as converstations continued it was hard to hear that so many of the people that are a part of my precious memories have passed on. A few have moved away, but the village will never be what I remember it to be... a small community with only forty houses, and very few kids. My brothers and I spend endless hours together, roaming free around the village... and loving every minute of it.
But the Lord has led us all down different paths, away from the hamlet and in to the suburbs. Thankfully I can delight in the Lord... He will always be my Home away from home. My shelter from the storm. My resting place.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wash Me

One big toe slips under the shower curtain, braving the temperature testing, and realizes that the water is perfect for the rest of the body to join. Water splashes down from above - washing off the dirt and dead skin. With a little help from a cloth and a bar of soap, the extra grime, stickiness, and stains disappear and wash away down the drain. Like so many other bathers, a song pops in to my head... "Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow!"

It dawned on me that it's not about how hard I work at becoming clean, or striving to be good. Grace is all about God and His precious Son, Jesus. Continually I need to ask for the Holy Spirit to come in, cleanse me, renew me, and guide me so that I can live a life that stays away from the dirt stains and sticky saps.

"Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow." Psalm 51:2,7

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless." Ephesians 5:25-27

Friday, June 18, 2010


I wanted to make sure that my newsletters from Africa also got onto the blog... many of you may have read the next few following posts, but the posts will also be new to some... so enjoy.
I am attending a writer's conference at the moment and I am learning so much about sharing God's stories in my life. Hopefully soon I will write more of them down and share them with you. Check out to see where I am at this weekend.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Piki-piki ponder

Soroti, Uganda November 2009
“Are you ready?” After a nod of the head, the engine would rev, the tires would spin and prayers would go up. This month I was able to take a few journeys to the village on the back of a piki-piki and it gave me plenty of time to ponder all that I have done in the past 9 months here in Uganda. I had to travel to some surrounding districts to follow up on the mass grave project and to deliver 19 goats to three communities, to encourage former child soldiers, in partnership with Fida International. I made sure I had my introduction speech ready and always a few words to share. Even if it meant five hours on motorcycle during a one day period, I was absolutely willing to go. I’m sure Mom would have prayed hard on those days, if she knew in advance that I was riding a bike, because the driver was speedy and I didn’t always know the way (although I had a pretty good idea). I imagine that long and winding road is a lot like my life this year, trusting God to bring me to the places that He had planned for me and also trusting His leadership, judgment, strength, and wisdom.
Children in school uniforms often coloured the side of the road as we biked by. Some kids would yell with excitement “Mzungu! Mzungu!” and others would slightly kneel and wave out of respect. It made me think of all the kids I have worked with this year. Whether it was tutoring Lydia Shaarda five mornings a week or teaching almost 90 children in Sunday school, there were always precious little ones in my life. Lydia was a joy to teach because she loved to learn. Sometimes 80 or 90 kids would feel like a rough pothole, especially on the days when they are unexplainably disrespectful or rowdy, but for the most part it was always an adventure sharing God’s Word with these children in Pamba.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” Proverbs 3:5-6. I must admit that sometimes I’d questioned why the Lord brought me to Africa, but then I was quickly reminded that He has used me in so many ways. I have been delighted to host visitors in the International Teams Guest House (my home), visit orphans, read to a few people who are blind, help run a Christian resource centre, sit with friends who are either Ugandan, Chinese or Indian, or lead bi-weekly worship around a bonfire.

“The moment I will never forget is when I came over that last hill. Looking ahead, I saw a huge castle that was sparkling in the sunlight. As I gazed in wonder at the sight before me, I saw someone coming – it was the King running towards me with His arms outstretched. Although I had never before seen the King’s face, I knew that it was Him. And thought I could hardly believe it, beside the King ran the Prince! They had not been able to keep the Prince captive and now we were both here in the Sparkling City! I marvel at how the King has worked all things out in the end. Finally, I am home.” (A quote from “Trek” Bible study material from Winkler Bible Camp)

Occasionally during my travels I would see huge fields of sunflowers and I’d thank God for the beauty of my favourite flower. And it would lead me to remember all the other beautiful things in my life. On Monday nights 14 young ladies would gather in my living room to study God’s Word. These princesses of the King of kings have come to mean a lot to me. During the school semesters, these village girls live in a boarding house across from my compound and we have shared many joys and struggles together. And just like a field of wilting sunflowers, I pray that these ladies will not lose their thirst for God, but that they will spread seeds that will once again rise up to give glory to the Lord.
I have just one and a half more months here in East Africa. I leave for Kenya on December 20th and will be spending Christmas with my friend Zima and her family there. I am truly glad that I hopped on the piki-piki, I mean, plane, and spent a year in Kenya and Uganda. I pray that God will be glorified every mile of the journey and that I will continue to ride in His goodness and love.
o 10 months of safety, good health, and happiness in East Africa.
o 90 children in the Pamba community who have clearly heard God’s message of love and grace.
o A wonderfully supportive team.
o I am thankful for a family who has given me their blessing to be here.
o I’m mostly grateful to God for using me in such a diversity of ministries.
o The transition back into Canada in January and for the friends I leave behind.
o For God’s Word and heart, truth, justice, and wisdom to spread through all of Uganda.
o Future direction in my life.

The 3:17's - September 13, 2009

This afternoon I watched a very touching film that began with this quote: “If you want to make God laugh... tell Him your plans.” I pondered that for a bit and then realized that I am the one who does the laughing. God sure leads me down exciting paths I never imagined. And once again I am reminded of Zephaniah 3:17, “The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great DELIGHT in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will REJOICE over you with singing.”

This week I had a few occasions to chuckle under my breath as I realized how the Lord was leading.

ü The Lord was definitely in control when he led a huge Israelite crowd out of Egypt, under the stammering leadership of Moses, and He is still in control as He places fun ideas in my head as to how to creatively teach these stories to 75 plus rambunctious kids on a Sunday morning. The last two weeks have been very rewarding, and I am starting to get to know more and more of the children personally.

ü I went with Fida to Lira, a bigger city, that is 2.5 hours NW of here. (And I actually got to drive the Land Cruiser the whole way – WOW – I was pumped.) The plan was to spend just one day in Lira, to encourage a few pastors, visit a cassava crop to see if it was growing and providing income for a whole community, and we dropped by a government school in major need of repair. I spent a lot of time praying internally that day. So what made me chuckle, well, TIA (This is Africa) it turned in to an unexpected overnighter because the agenda was too full for the day and the roads were too muddy to drive home in the dark. I had to get over my initial bitterness of not having a change of clothes, my malaria pills, a tooth brush, and just living on a whim, trusting that God’s will would be done.

ü There are days when I get just a little too culturally frustrated or tired, and it is always at those times when God provides a fun team activity. On Monday I went to fun Labour Day party with many other missionaries in town. Yeah, a barbeque and old fashioned salads. Woo Hoo!

ü Four times in the past two weeks I have had people tell me that I should be a preacher and that they want me to come and speak to their congregations. Now part of me should be expecting this, because I am a “missionary” after all, but I always have a good laugh. I don’t feel like I can be a preacher, but I sure do love being in front of a crowd. Maybe I need to remember that God will give me the words to say if and when I really do need to speak. I may even need to give it a whirl, since it seems to be something God is impressing upon my heart more and more.

ü A Ugandan friend challenged me this week by saying that some of my blog entries ( suggest that Uganda is rather primitive. I was surprised to hear him say that, and so I have been trying to think about that. Do you know, some of the things that may come across as primitive are some of the things I love most about living in Africa? Frogs in the pool – cool. Would have been even more fun if I could have caught it? I would love to hear from you... am I painting a sad picture of Uganda, or one that makes you think or chuckle with me?

I want to finish off with another verse I was encouraged with this week. “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Saviour. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on to the heights.” Habakkuk 3:17-19

FYI, I have temporarily solved my banking dilemma. I continue to thank the Lord for the many people who are supporting me financially and personally. May you also seek the most Heavenly Father and trust in his plans.

Delighting in the Lord’s Delight!

Karebear Lubbers

Tight Shoes - August 26, 2009

Hello friends and loved ones!

I have passed the half way mark of my time of service in Uganda. Wow, so much to do and so little time left. I am still tutoring, teaching Sunday school, encouraging church leaders, partnering with Fida in reaching out to LRA former child soldiers, holding babies, and leading Bible studies.

I have just finished biking home from the bank. It has been my fourth attempt this week to withdraw cash and for some reason my debit card is being rejected. So I am living right now with less than $20 in my pocket and amazingly enough, the Lord provides every day. (I’m not saying there isn’t money, I just can’t get to it at the moment)... but I am starting to ponder more and more about what it means to live without money. I am stepping in to the shoes of my Ugandan friends for a brief period of time and here are some of my thoughts, or things I have witnessed:

1. The Lord has given me many meals to eat – provided by great friends and complete strangers. Whether I am attending a spiritual retreat in Kampala and eating with some of the national church leaders of Uganda, or if I am biking home from town and stop at a small shop that I often frequent and am handed a plate of posho and beans.

2. “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink... Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” Matthew 6:25, 27 I have heard a testimony of my helper that often her children are left in the village while she works and they encourage one another to not grumble against God for not having lunch, because God is good and He will provide for them. Can you imagine a 9 year old comforting a 3 year old, telling them that everything will work out fine?

3. What would I do if:

· I wanted to care for many orphans and the Lord kept bringing them to my gate. I only have a small place but the big house next to me is vacant at the moment. For some strange reason, I have access, but not the ability to pay rent. Would I allow those children to move into the home, unbeknownst to the landlord, because they deserve a place to sleep? Would I pray God miraculously provides money so that house can be rented honestly?

· I desired to go to school but had no way of paying the school fees. Would I beg relatives and friends for some money? Would I pray that a mzungu could sponsor me? Would I sleep with a man to make some cash? Or would I just spend another semester just sitting at home, watching life go past?

· I only had $20 left in my pocket and I saw someone who had a greater need than me. Would I give that money away knowing that I had bills to pay or no food in the pantry? Would I truly trust that God sees what I have done and reward my good deeds? I have a feeling that I would need to turn around and ask a friend for $20 to borrow... just starting a cycle of poverty all over again.

I have seen many Ugandans just live day to day, meal to meal. I am grateful that I have been able to help sponsor a girl for school, or give some neighbours corn meal and vegetables so that their children can eat. I am glad that I don’t even have to challenge my ethics regarding purity, theft, corruption, and money management. I am beyond blessed with a house, a bike, and a pantry.

My team-mates and I have been talking a lot lately about the cycle of poverty here in Africa. Why does it feel like poverty cannot be overcome? There are plenty of resources here. There are some hard working men and women, who give it their best, but just can’t get by. If you have answers I would love to hear them.

But Dad, I would love it if you could hurry home from vacation and help me solve this silly banking dilemma; it wasn’t fixed by midnight on Saturday as originally suggested. Just like the woman in Luke 15, I will throw a party when the lost coin has been returned to me. Cheers.

Serving daily,

Karen Lubbers

Zaccheus - May 13, 2009

Greetings friends!

Rainy season arrived, left for three weeks, then came back even wetter and more beautiful than before. This afternoon I biked home from tutoring, with three year old Avalien riding on the storage rack behind me, and we watched the lightening strike. “Bike faster!”, Avalien would yell as I peddled around puddles that threatened to slow us down. We got home just before the skies opened up and we relaxed on my porch, in awe of God’s strength. Avalien played with my hair, yes, one of my life’s simple pleasures, until a double rainbow appeared. Incredible!! God was wrapping His glorious arms around us!

As the rain continued to pour, two year old Moses also came over to visit, and the three of us laid on one of the bunkbeds that was delivered today. (The guest house is coming together more and more each day. 10 of the beds are made, and hopefully next week I will paint the last bedroom in my house.) I pulled out an extra big book, a foot and a half by two feet, and read to them the story of Zacchaeus. A simple Bible story of how a short man, a sinner, wanted to see Jesus. He climbed a tree and when Jesus saw him, he said “Zacchaeus, you come down, for I am going to your house today!” When Zacchaeus met with Jesus, his life changed, he gave gifts to those he had stolen from, and he had much joy.

I thought about how sometimes I feel like Zacchaeus. A little person in a big world. A person who makes mistakes every day, but delightfully gets a forgiven fresh start every day also. When I finally take the time to get closer to Jesus he opens many doors. My life in Uganda has been an incredible blessing over the past month. (I have been here two months already!)

I have gotten back into the daily routine of teaching missionary kids and I actually love it.

Occasionally I am able to travel out to the villages to meet with Children Affected by Armed Forces and I listen to their stories, counsel them in the simple ways that I can, put smiles on their faces as I try to join them in dancing to the local music, and pray with them as they strive to recover from being victims of war. Please check out my blog for more of these stories.

A three day spiritual retreat in Jinja, with my team, was truly refreshing. We stayed right on Lake Victoria, and I could see the mouth of the Nile river. Absolutely stunning. Then the Sliedrechts and I traveled on to Kampala to visit the Indian embassy (so I can attend a wedding in India in June), bought furniture and supplies for the guest house, visited doctors, and bought a few extra fun groceries.

I am now teaching 90 plus children on Sunday mornings, ages 3-12, and I am mentoring four young people on how to do children’s ministry. It is so much fun.

And just like Zacchaeus, I want to give away the gifts that God has given to me. I share friendship, joy, food, laughter, and peace with those around me. I am seeking to be better at hearing God’s voice and trusting in Him completely.

Thank you for climbing a tree with me, and for catching a glimpse at how the Lord is at work here in Soroti, and in my life. May you be eating with Jesus too, before the day is done.

Feeling humbly bigger every moment,

Karen Lubbers

Settling in Soroti

Yoga! Hi everyone! April 17, 2009

I didn’t realize that so much time has flown by since I last wrote to you. I have been in Soroti, Uganda for just over a month now and I can finally call this place home. My table and chairs arrived yesturday and internet has found it’s way into my home. Praise God!!

I am back to tutoring MK’s and I am completely peaceful about it. I work with Lydia four mornings a week, on her grade one studies, and occasionally her three year old sister Grace joins for music, science, art, etc. It is a great privilege to serve my long-term team-mates in this way.

Occasionally I walk over to an orphanage called Amecet and hold very sick babies. This tiny children have either been abandoned because they have HIV/AIDS or they are actual orphans and no one in their village wants to take care of them. It is a sad place to be because the babies are so sick and there are not enough staff to look after them. Three or four babies share a crib at a time and they don’t get the love and attention they need and deserve, so I go there whenever I can.

On Tuesday I had the joy of going on a road trip with FIDA. They are a Finnish Development Agency and I went with them to deliver goats to three villages. Each of these places has a CAAF program (Children Affected by Armed Forces) and FIDA works with these children, to counsel them and mentor them as they seek to become a part of their communities again after being in the Lord’s Resistance Army. My role was to bring a speech to each community and to take pictures because my agency, International Teams, found a sponsor in the US who wanted to give goats to each of these kids as a source of income. Of course, the donation wasn’t big enough for every child to receive a goat, so the female goats are put into a revolving scheme. The first village received 7 goats for 67 children. As soon as the goats have a baby, they are given to the next child / teen on the list. Hopefully in 3 years time, every one will have a goat. The second village had more of the teens present as we came to deliver the goats. The local community chairperson had gotten permission for these teens to skip school and they sat in a group, waiting for us to arrive. As I looked at the guys I saw a lot of fear and anger in their faces. These guys need love and guidance for sure.

I struggled with the trip that day…. It was incredible fun to travel on bumpy roads, or even dirt paths and to find these small villages in the Ugandan country side. I loved seeing small villages that look like country and western towns with simple porches and square signs. And I had fun singing Celine Dion songs while the rain poured down on the vehicle and made traveling even more slow and adventurous. But what I didn’t like was coming in to a community for only 20 minutes and feeling like a politician. Four chairs were put out for me and my party. We made quick speeches, handed out the goats and left. It took 8 hours to visit three villages. I wished that I could have stayed longer in the villages… to meet the children and really get to know them.

Easter was great over here. I helped local children catch Flying White Ants in the dark and then ate them for dinner the next day. I have spotted a monitor lizard becoming more and more courageous in my yard. I shared Easter dinner with my team-mates, as well as some Chinese and Indian friends that we have met in Soroti. I hosted a Saturday night dinner party for a bunch of great neighbours and friends. Church was okay… it was pouring rain on a tin roof, so it was very hard to sing and hear (or even stay dry because the roof had many holes in it.)

Hopefully I will tell you more stories a little more frequently… or I hope that a lot of you are checking out my blog. It tells the fun, every day stories. Please feel free to comment whenever, that way I know people are reading it.

Settling in Soroti,
Karen Lubbers

In Uganda - March 22, 2009

Greetings from Uganda!!
Last Friday I left the retreat with my team-mates and we spent a day in Nairobi getting supplies and checking out the Maasai Market before we began our journey home to Soroti. We spent the first night in a monastery and Avalien thought the monks, dressed in white robes, looked like Angels. We drove five hours on Saturday, bought fresh fruit and spent another night in Eldoret. Last Sunday we drove another two hours to the Uganda border and there had to exit Kenya customs and enter Uganda customs. I was able to get a three month visa for now. That was our hope!! And then another two or so hours on rough roads to Soroti.

I have finally arrived in Soroti, Uganda and have been trying to make myself at home for the past 6 days. The temperature reached 115 degrees this week. :) I have met some great people and explored the town market and tiny grocery store. I have walked through an IDP (Internally Displaced People) Camp and my heart went out to the many children there. I have sat with three blind women who are leaders in their community. I held tiny babies at an orphanage and wondered if they will ever have a real home or experience love. I participated in a Bible study at a local nurses college. And all together I have come to appreciate Soroti and hope to find my place and purpose here.

Yesturday I bought a bike… a cheap, single gear bike. As I was getting on for the first time at home I tripped over the very loose brake wire and toppled over with my bike. I ripped my skirt, cut one leg and produced a major owwy scrape on my right knee. It’s stinging today. Pray that it doesn’t turn in to an infection. I tried to get all the goat poop dirt out of it. J

We have been without power for the past 24 hours, but that’s okay with me, since I don’t care for fans or ice-cubes. J Honest!! I should define “we”… Tim and Angie Sliedrecht - with Avalien and Moses live right next door to me. I will be staying in the same compound as them and my place is viewed as the guest house. There are four bedrooms in my place, and for the most part I may be by myself, but occasionally I will share my home with short-term visitors that come through. Two days ago the Shaarda family returned to Soroti and they were going to move into a newly renovated home, but the construction is not finished, so they are staying with me… that is Josh and Mandy, along with three children - Lydia, Grace, and baby Luca. And then just up the street are my other team-mates - Josiah and Sarah Bokma. A great community and team to work with!!

Well, I must get ready to visit a Compassion International site and visit with the children there. I hope that you will all have a wonderful day.

Resting in the Lord’s goodness,

Joining the Team - March 12, 2009

“HAKUNA MATATA… what a wonderful phrase…. It means ‘no worries” and I am sure you can imagine me singing the rest of that song. J Delightfully I am broadening the number of Swahili songs that I am singing and am dancing with joy. I am well my friends and enjoying all that East Africa has to offer me right now.

Some of you might still think I am up in Kalacha, but praise the Lord, I am now with my Ugandan team-mates at a conference just outside of Nairobi, Kenya. Last week, Rachel and I were able to get a ride down country in the nurse’s Land Rover… the same nurse that was chased out of Kalacha wanted her vehicle so we drove down with another missionary (Steve). God is good. I feel absolutely horrible for the nurse, but the Lord used that situation to help me get where I needed to go.

It was a two day drive, very dusty and dirty, and occasionally squishy. For example, in many of the towns we drove through we had to pass by a police check, where metal teeth strips are placed across the street so that you are forced to stop. Well, in Lasamis the police office asked us to drive his elderly father down to Isiolo (a four hour drive) and we didn’t feel that we really had a choice, so Rachel and I squished together in the back seat, amongst suitcases, jerry cans of water, and household goods. Steve and his wife were moving to Nairobi, so it was a fully loaded vehicle. This old man came with us, and he often held his hands in a prayer position… I don’t know if he was grateful for the ride, or if he was praying that he would survive over the potholes that Steve took at a fairly quick speed. J

Rachel and I spent the weekend in Nairobi - going to a game park, doing a bit of grocery shopping for her family, and relaxing at a guest house. It was amazingly quiet without 5 little Andersen children running around and demanding Rachel’s attention. We had great heart to hearts and laughed together as well.

On Monday morning I was able to get a ride to Brackenhurst Conference Centre with another person staying at the guest house (see how God laid out the path of travel so nicely) and I have been here for the past few days. I can’t begin to describe how amazing the fellowship has been. There are maybe sixty of us here, both westerners and East Africans, worshipping, learning, and playing together. I have heard stories that have made me cry… of street kids who have learned to read and get a real job, or a Rwandan Tutsi growing up in a refugee camp, who is now working alongside of a Hutu. 1.5 kg orphans who are now beautiful children or nurses who are growing herbal gardens. So much is happening out here.

My favourite activity is shooting hoops with the guys. Today I made my first three pointer. On Saturday I will finally begin my journey to Soroti. My bags are weary of travelling and look well-worn. Uganda here I come.

May this note find each of you enjoying delightful weather and peaceful days. If there is anyone who would not like to receive these updates, please let me know. Thanks.

Dancing in God’s Goodness,
Karen Lubbers

February 25, 2009 - Delights of the Desert

I only have 5 more days left up here in Kalacha before the Andersen’s and I begin a long journey back down country. Hopefully by the end of next week I will be joining up with my team-mates who live and serve in Uganda and begin the next phase of my African journey.

What’s been fun in the desert sun this week? Well, I went to the medical clinic to see a GSU soldier come in to town with a snake bite needing treatment. And last night I watched an electrical shock being given to our night guard who just got bit by a scorpion. Both men are recovering just fine. I visited a new born baby in a small hut at the edge of town. I knew it was a boy because a wooden stool and axe were tied to the roof above the door.

Three car loads of us muzungus drove 15 minutes out of Kalacha on Monday night to enjoy a sunset picnic on the chalbi - with chai and popcorn. The kids ran for miles on the dried, cracked, flat land and the adults took photos of the sun setting. Mars shown brightly in the sky long before gazillions of stars came out. On the way home we spotted a jackal running with some dinner in it’s mouth.

I’ve eaten some Ostrich egg and hope to try some fried locust before the end of the day. J And a precious lemon merrange pie was served for Uriah’s 7th birthday.

The youth of the small church here in Kalacha say that I should stay longer since I fit in so easily. I have already been practising the very difficult greetings and enjoy singing with them all at music practise. (I pretend that I can speak the words that I read from the songbook.) Pray for the church of Kalacha though - as many of the people attending church still do not fully grasp what it means to follow Christ, or they are praying for wisdom on how to let go of the old Gabra traditions in order to make a difference.

Jarso is one young man in particular who is really struggling right now. He works on the mission station as a handyman and is learning a lot about mechanics from Eddie. Jarso is the oldest in his family of nine children and that means he has many roles to fulfill. He is supposed to take part in the sacrifices that occur during the new moon. He is trying to raise 60,000 shillings so that he can buy three camels to give as a dowry for his bride, but whenever he has the slightest amount of money saved he has to give it to his family or neighbours for school, medication, food, etc. Occasionally Jarso has periods of depression because he gets so overwhelmed with all needs to do and during those times his family try to stand up to the neighbours by saying “NO - we will not send our son to the witch doctor”. On Sunday morning Jarso and his brother Barako stood in front of the church with their parents, confessed their sins, and sang “Jesus Loves Me” whole heartedly. Pray for the whole family as they seek to do what is right in the eyes of the Lord.

Bones, my teddy bear, has made a huge hit in Kalacha and it is very rare to find a photo without him in it. The community is threatening to kidnap him so that I will stay longer. J Please check out Charmyn’s blog to see a Bones story.

I hope you are all well and loving life. Please email me and tell me what’s going on in your world. I would love to hear from you and know how to pray for you.

Karen Lubbers

Life in Kalacha - February 4, 2009

Hello my many rafikis (Friends)!

Well the journey so far has been absolutely amazing. After leaving Nairobi we drove about 8 hours north and spent the night over looking a beautiful safari conservation park. The next day we drove another 7 hours on dusty, incredibly bumpy roads and we were dealing with a slipping clutch. We bought a new clutch but couldn't replace it because there was no mechanics pit to work over, so we just drove slowly so the land rover would not kick into Turbo mode. :) We spent the next night with some local Kenyans and had a wonderful evening of fellowship. I slept on the floor of a fairly simple home, but at least it was made of cement. The neighbours houses were all made of sticks that were rounded in to nomadic huts.

On Sunday we drove the final 7 hours of the journey and I saw zebras, gazelles, baboons, dik diks, and vultures. For about 2 hours we drove on the Chalbi desert since it was dry so that made our trip go a bit smoother - but man, the dust was atrocious. Finally we rounded a small mounded and landed in an oasis called Kalacha - where camels and goats roam freely even though they have a shepherd looking over them. A camel is worth about $200, about half the price of a cow. I have been eating a lot of camel and goat up here because it is so very accessible. And chai - every where I go I am offered Kenya tea and it is super yummy. Each location has it's own set of spices to put inside... sometime bark adds the flavor - other times it is ginger and nutmeg, etc. I love it every time.

In Kalacha I am living on a mission station. I have my own guest house and Rachel and Eddie live right next door with their five lively children. Thorn trees grow everywhere. Lizards and spiders hang out on our walls and screens. Long drops serve as the bathroom facilities and joyfully there is a cement pool here... 5 feet deep.

It is super hot - well 95 degrees and very humid but the wind is constantly blowing. But that also means that the sand and dust is blowing too. Everything is gritty. We are 400 miles from a grocery store so fresh produce is a rarity and a sheer delight.

Today I had a the privilege to fly in a Cessna 6 seater to a northern mountain town called Gatab. I went with a young couple who were going to have their baby's arm xrayed at the local hospital. It was a 20 minute flight or a 6 hour drive. :) The view was incredible as we flew over the desert. From Gatab I was only 100 miles south of the Ethiopian border. The Cessna brought in all the missionaries mail and packages so it was a great day for everyone.

Yesturday I was able to go with the nurse to a mobil clinic. We found a village about 15 km away and 12 women came out with their babies and children tied to their backs. We weighed the babies, immunized two little ones and gave polio vaccinations to all the children. A local pastor also preached a very short sermon. A truly neat ministry.

Other wise, I am resting, enjoying meeting people, looking out for snakes and scorpions, and rarely writing an email because my computer is dead and everything here runs on solar power or satellite connections.

Hope this finds you all well. I am having a blast. I never thought I'd enjoy the desert - but it's phenominal.

Love ya!!


Unavoidable Delay - March 3, 2009

Babar a kay!! (Good morning every one!)

Well, it looks like I am going to be spending up to another week amongst the Gabra people in Kalacha. The last few days have been eventful, stressful, and adventurous.

Saturday morning a group of men came over to another missionary home to complain about the nurse that was up here. Gloria - the nurse whom I traveled with and went on mobile clinics with. Apparently they were upset that Gloria charges too much for the meds (even though they are super cheap) and that she isn’t compassionate enough. The group was filled with 20 or so men, some of them were drunk or high on Mara and they got even more upset talking with the other missionary family. They marched over to Gloria’s house, threw rocks at her door and told her she had 24 hours to get out of town. Gloria was completely targeted out of the blue. Gloria was stunned.

We all believe that the mob had this well planned out because there were no church leaders in town, most of the elderly men were out in the fields, the town chief was three hours away on a supply run, and it is not the Gabra way to do things with out the chief and the elders around to talk things through and make good decisions. Gloria left town by 6pm with the only other two male missionaries left in town. That left three single girls (me included) and two mothers with 8 children combined trying to figure out what to do. Contingency plans were made up of how we could get out of town even though the Gabra said that they weren’t upset with us. We were all on edge for the rest of the day.

Eddie came back that night at 11pm from a church conference and he brought with him three leaders who were shocked about what happened. We have no idea if it was a good thing if Gloria left as soon as she did because the clinic is now shut down and this mob of young men are now starting to realize they did something wrong. They are not violent people. In a town with 4000 people, I have yet to see a weapon, except a knife to butcher animals.

On Sunday morning, Rachel, Eddie, and I were going to leave for a mini-vacation of camping in game parks as they drove me down country so that I could attend the International Teams conference in Nairobi (which starts March 9) and join my Ugandan team-mates. Well, we decided to post-pone that for a day until the other missionary men came back in to town to be with their families.

On Monday morning, at 10:30 pm all 8 of us loaded in to the Land Rover and about 45 minutes away, in the middle of the Chalbi desert we heard a loud metal clunk and smelled oil. We stopped the vehicle and saw that the radiator had come lose and hit the fan. We stood in the middle of the desert for three hours trying to repair the radiator. Another vehicle came along just as we were finishing the repairs - enough to get us turned around back to Kalacha. We were all cranky and dehydrated because we were rationing the water… we had no idea how long we might have had to stay in the desert with a broken vehicle.
So, now I am back in Kalacha - with no fresh food (we thought we were going to go down country to get supplies). Don’t worry, I’m not hungry, I’m just tired of meat with rice and beans. I miss fresh fruit and veggies. And no vehicle to get us down country. A radiator needs to be specially built.

So, now my options to get down country are a 12 seater flight on Friday - but it leaves from the town that is three hours away - we might be able to get one of the Muslim local store owners drive Rachel and I to Marsabit to fly to Nairobi. Or a six seater flight next Monday morning… then I can take a taxi straight from the airport to the conference centre. Pray that there are seats available on either plane and that I can have peace about staying another week in Kalacha.

That’s my weekend in a nutshell. We have been reading “Cheaper by the Dozen” in the evenings and the father always says it is one of those “Unavoidable Delays!”

Serving a God who is Good,

Everything Has Its Time - from August 1, 2009

Everything Has Its Time
“Everything on earth has its own time and its own season.” Here in Uganda I am confused as to what season it is. I think it is supposed to be rainy season, but it continues to be hot and dry. Also, this is a strange season in my life. I have been Uganda for almost five months and I think I have past the honeymoon season. I find that more and more often I am feeling culturally frustrated, and yet I am feeling more and more at home here.
“There is a time for birth and death, planting and reaping,” Last week I was able to meet precious baby Esther just hours after she was born. I have been there for her first bath, many clothing changes since diapers are almost non-existent or huge, and I gave the family my camera for a week to capture the memories.
Death – well, the pictures of the former LRA soldiers and victims that I helped to collect and place in the mass grave still cross through my mind and I am reminded daily to pray for peace in the Teso area.
Planting and reaping is a constant struggle in this area. Due to the lack of rains the crops are failing and famine is winning. I also hope that the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart will plant seeds in the lives of the people around me and I pray that God will help me also to walk along side of those who desire to follow HIM.
“for killing and healing, destroying and building,” Too often I have heard stories of children who are neglected and die due to lack of love or food. It saddens me. But I also thank the Lord for places like Amecet – an orphanage that looks after some of these neglected or sick babies.
Lately I have made friends with two ladies who run the local corner store. Eunice and Barbara, two sisters, who sell soap, soda, eggs, flour, and a few other basics, now greet me with a huge smile and welcoming hands whenever I go to the store. This morning as I was exchanging my crate of bottled soda I learned that Barbara lost her husband in 1995 to HIV. She also has HIV but with the help of medications, she has been able to continue teaching and looking after her two children. Praise God there is healing and a chance to continue living and learning. Instead of being destroyed by death and hardships, I thank God that they are able to rebuild their lives.
“for crying and laughing, weeping and dancing,” Again, I thank God that my laughter can bring joy to so many of those who weep. And dancing... boy do the Africans love to dance in church.
“for throwing stones and gathering stones, embracing and parting,” Today I went back to my friend Zima’s tiny cement room to say good-bye. Zima is heading back to Kenya after completing a two month internship in Soroti. I will miss her as she understood me well. We prayed together, shed a few tears, and hugged good-bye. It seems that many of my friendships are only for a season.
“There is a time for finding and losing, keeping and giving, for tearing and sewing, listening and speaking.” I continue to try and figure out who I really am in Uganda. I know that I am being true to God and losing myself to Him, but I am praying for wisdom about how to give even more. What do I stand up for? How can I be Christ’s ambassador the best? To what should I give my time and money to? I am grateful for the times that I have been asked to speak – either to children, students, or adult Bible studies. And daily I try to listen to God’s voice – to hear where He wants me to be.
“There is also a time for love and hate, for war and peace.” I just want to say that I dearly love the Ugandans and my team. I am thankful for my friends who are here with me in Soroti. Together we can stand up against the spiritual battles that war against us and pray for the peace of God to reign.
These are just a few of the thoughts I had while reading Ecclesiastes 3. I hope that time is full of purpose for you and that each day joy and peace will be yours also.
In His Time,
Karen Lubbers

Tea Time Reposted

Twisting off the lid to the thermos, I’m inviting you to sit and have a cup of spiced milk chai with me as I tell you about the latest happenings in my life. No need to add sugar, because it comes already sweetened. And so are the days of my life, each a sweet blessing from the Lord of all, the Great Provider.
December 18th found me on a journey with my dear friend Zima. We were traveling from Uganda to Kenya on an overnight bus. By noon on the 19th I was introduced to her family of 8. They live in a simple wooden home, filled with love, laughter, and conversation, in Chuka – near Mt. Kenya. Zima invited me to spend Christmas and New Year’s with her family. It has been a very peaceful time for me to read, reflect, and pray about the future.
My last few weeks in Uganda were filled with good-byes. Early November I finished teaching precious Lydia Shaarda (Congrats on a First Grade well done!) Then my Sunday school class threw an impromptu party for me – with worship, speeches, presentations, and a meal. Many neighbours dropped by for tea and I had fun delivering home-made Christmas cards to my friends, favourite shops, and work places in Soroti.
Last week I took a three day trip to Mombasa. I couldn’t spend 50 weeks in East Africa and not go Scuba Diving on the coast. It was absolutely worth it.
I hope you’ve been reading my blog to stay updated on delivering goats for an income generating project, or hanging out with many children, or handing out Bibles to my Princesses at the hostel, and so much more.
Well, my tea is finished. I need to walk out to the water tap to rinse my cup, but I should first put on a pair of gum boots first because the rain turned the brown clay into very slippery, sticky mud.
May your days also be sweet and filling.
My cup overfloweth,
Karen Lubbers

Saturday, June 12, 2010


Last night I had the privilege of hearing the Watoto African Children's Choir. These children are all orphans due to HIV Aids, and are now touring the world, singing, to raise money for the Ugandan orphanages they stay in. I had seen them before in concert, but what I didn't expect this time was that a choking sensation would grab my throat the second I walked into the sanctuary and that tears would flow when the kids, in full colour, would start dancing and worshiping God.
Thankfully the tears soon went away so that I could enjoy the moment instead of miss the past. And I began to dance in my seat. It was strange to see a crowd of people listening to such active and alive music remain so calm in their seat. I rocked in my chair, rotating my shoulders, bopping to the left and the right, tapping my feet, and waving my hands.
I also began to feel grateful for my life. Lately I have noticed that many people around me are walking through different stages in their lives. Two 25th wedding anniversaries, two wedding showers, one wedding, one 50th anniversary, nine Professions of Faith, one miscarriage, and three friends with a parent passing away. Most of these are planned events, but in all of them, it is a reminder to trust in God and follow His leading.
I think the tears of last night confirmed that God wants me back in Africa. I friend reminded me the other day that I can't always dream of Africa, that eventually I need to wake up and get on with my day. :) So, since I feel the Lord is still leading my back to East Africa, I am gearing to go back in October, for a couple of weeks anyways and to encourage my friends there. Once there I will continue to pray that I understand the Lord's clear direction.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

REM Reflections

Sheer darkness surrounds me. Not a sound can be heard from my bedroom below the earth, in the basement. Knock, Knock, Knock, "Karen". I am awakened from the deepest of REM sleeps by my Mom who is trying to explain that someone from Soroti, Uganda has called at 3:30 in the morning and I am supposed to call him back. I had to call back because this person ran out of shillings just calling to inform me to call him back. Bitterness escapes me first. What, doesn't he understand time differences? Can't we just shut off all the phones in the house until I wake up in a couple of hours? I felt bad that everyone in the house had woken up to the phone ringing except for me.
Mom placed a phone beside my bed and said, "Well, if the phone rings again, you get it." And that sounded like a great plan... except that I couldn't fall back to sleep. My dreams were about licking a salt block and my thoughts were that the phone would ring, so I eventually got up, dug out my telephone book and dialed the number he used to have. Nope, no answer. Try again. Nope. Let's check call display. Oh goody, he has a new number for me to try. By now a half hour has gone by and all I want to do is sleep.
The phone call finally went through to one of my former Sunday school helpers. He asked how Canada and my family were. Then quickly the conversation turned to the Sunday school class. He is overwhelmed with the work that is happening at the church. He told me that the children continue to come in large crowds and he decided to find more helpers and to split the class in two. By now I was getting excited. Yeah, God is good. The children's program is on fire. He wanted me to say some words of encouragement for the kids... so with a quick prayer fired up to heaven, I gave words of blessing that will hopefully brighten the children.
And then my heart begins to break. "Karen, when are you coming back?" I mention that maybe I will be coming to Uganda for a few weeks in October and that I will make sure I come to see the kids at least once. What! "You're not coming back to teach? What do you want me to tell the children?" I couldn't help wondering if all along he thought I was coming back to take over the class again. I think it is absolutely amazing that the class has doubled in size and that God's Word is still being shared with the children week after week. Those children don't need me, they have amazing leaders already. I tried to share my excitement for him to him, but the phone call awkwardly ended. He said, "Well, I don't have much else to say, so have a good day. God bless." And that was it.
I struggled to refind sleep as I pondered what the Lord is doing in Soroti. I miss it dearly, but if I go back, I have this strange feeling that God has different plans for me there. I just need to wait and trust and leave everything into God's hands... and awww, sleep is found.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Japan 2003

Here is a little memory of something that happened years ago:

While serving in the Philippines I decided to fly to Japan to hang out with my amazing cousin, Judy, and her husband, for Christmas and New Year’s. They were teaching English in Kochi, many hours south of Osaka, on a different island and I was volunteering with a mission agency in the Philippines. We decided that it would be fun to meet in Japan for Christmas and New Year’s. A friend in Manila helped me to organize plane tickets, but just hours before leaving, news arrived that she had confused the hours of my departure. I would be flying out of Manila at 6 pm instead of 4 pm and that would mean I miss the overnight train I was supposed to take from Osaka to Kochi.

After a few moments of frustration, my team-mates all met me at the local airport to pray with me before I flew up to Manila. Being surrounded by friends who cared, and giving it all to God, allowed peace to reign in my heart. I flew up to Manila, transferred over to the international airport, and called Phil and Judy to let them know that I didn’t know when I would be arriving in Kochi. I was still rather nervous because I had always heard that Japan is super expensive and I didn’t want to spend a night in Osaka that was unplanned. Thankfully though, I continued to give it to God, knowing He was in control.

The scheduled five hour flight took only four and a half hours, so I thought maybe I had a chance. The train station is connected to the International airport, so I thought there would be no problems. Upon arriving I raced over to the trains and could not find a single English speaking person anywhere. The only way to buy a train ticket was through an ATM machine. Normally I wouldn’t mind, but I couldn’t read Japanese characters, so I had no idea how to get to Kyoto, which is a main train station, about 15 minutes away, where I could catch the overnight train. It took me close to 20 minutes to find someone who could speak English and who was willing to help me purchase a ticket to Kyoto.

I took the tram train to Kyoto and arrived just 17 minutes after the overnight train departed to Kochi. Bummer! There were some short conductors on the platforms, directing people where to go. I asked some of them how to get to Kochi, and the only English they knew was “Sorry ma’am, you missed the train.” I knew that already. I wanted to know when the next train was... does it leave in the morning? Does the train only go every night at 11 pm? Repeatedly they said “Sorry ma’am, you missed the train!”

Slowly I started taking more and more layers of clothing out of my backpack and putting them on, because I was freezing. Japan was much colder than the Philippines. The ticket booths had closed for the night and I didn’t know where else to go. I started making myself at home on the platform, thinking I would spend the night there. Two hours past, the number of trains leaving the station came to a crawling halt and the number of conductors greatly decreased. Just after 1 am one of these dainty conductor men motioned for me to follow him. Warily I followed, somewhat out of boredom, somewhat out of curiosity.

We exited the platform through a single door and started meandering our way through tunnels and down staircases. In my head I was reprimanding myself for being so naive and following him, but I also felt that there just might be a light at the end of this tunnel. Moments later we stepped inside a warm office room, with a small sitting area and a row of computers. Twelve or so computers, each with a person behind them, filled the room. Ah! This must be the central hub for the train organization. I sat on one of the big cushy chairs that were pointed out to me and waited. Soon a young man came to greet me... a young man who spoke English. Once again I said, “Thank you God!” He wanted to know how he could help me.

I explained my situation and my desire to get to Kochi as soon as possible. This kind man disappeared for about five minutes while I tried to keep my eyes open. I was exhausted. He returned with a smart looking schedule for me. The train would depart at 5:20 am and should arrive shortly after 10 am. He went the extra mile for me because the trip had four transfers and the Japanese characters on the printout did little to help me. Delightfully, this young man translated everything. He wrote all over the schedule: what time the train would arrive, and on which platform; how many minutes I had before the train departed from another platform, etc. Yeah! I asked him if I could take a three hour nap in the chair I was sitting in before heading back up to the platform and he said, “Sure!”

At 5 a.m. I found my way back up to the platform with my beautifully planned schedule in hand. I just needed to purchase a ticket. There was a man sitting in the ticket booth, but when I approached he said that the booth wasn’t open until 5:30. Problem! My train leaves at 5:20 a.m. He motioned for me to exit the turnstiles and silly me – I did. That brought me to ticket machines with characters I once again couldn’t read. Frustrated, I started asking people if they spoke English. I couldn’t find anyone, but two young ladies came tiptoeing over to see how they could help. They quickly made their way over to the man in the booth with my schedule, but he shook his head repeatedly, and the girls shrugged their shoulders as they returned the schedule to me.

At 5:19 a.m. the man in the ticket booth comes dashing out, punches a stamp on my schedule and brings me through the turnstiles, down to the trains, and puts me on a train. The doors close and I am on my way. I knew I was on the right train, but totally confused about what just happened. Arriving at the next station I made my way over to the now open ticket booths and ended up paying for all the trains I was supposed to take that morning. I was delighted.

I spent most of the morning checking out gorgeous countryside. I didn’t have time to call Judy because the stopovers were such a short time, so I just relaxed, knowing that God was taking care of everything. On my fifth and final train there was a little boy who decided to become my friend. He tried to teach me Japanese words for every appendage on my face. He giggled when I recorded him on my video camera and then played it back to him. With a half hour left on my journey, the little boy’s mother turned around in her seat in front of me and thanked me in clear English for entertaining her son. We chatted for a while. She explained how they were traveling to Kochi to tour the many Hindu temples in the area and she showed me her intricately carved prayer walking stick.

To my surprise, she said, “This morning I went to the market and asked for two boiled eggs, so that we could have breakfast on our journey. The egg vendor forced me to take three eggs for the price of two, and now I know why. Will you share breakfast with us?” Absolutely! Together we ate and chatted until the train pulled in to the Kochi station. I found a pay phone and easily connected with a screaming Judy, who was excited that I was only 10 minutes away. Soon our happy reunion began. Praise God!