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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

More on Joy

Just before dark, I received a call from dear Sam and Esther... they have pulled into town, after a long journey back from Mbarara.  The bus dropped them off near my home, so they called to see if I could bring them home.  When they came in the gate, baby Pure Joy was so happy to see me.  Joy is now 10 months and just underwent her second round of chemotherapy for the Retinoblastoma eye cancer that she is battling. 
Last week the parents went back to Mbarara for further treatment, and two days after the chemo, the doctors decided that the cancer was still too aggressive and so they removed the eye completely.
Sam and Esther said five children all had their eyes removed that day - last Thursday - so we can be praying for healing, a decrease in swelling, and patience as each family adjusts to a new lifestyle.
 Joy never gives up smiling though - she is such a strong girl!
 Every night the eye socket needs to be washed with warm, clean water.
 Joy has to go through at least two more rounds of chemo and hopefully she will receive a new eye next month.  This journey continues....

Monday, February 18, 2013

Plugging Along

A wedding choir now meets at my house on a regular basis.  The keyboard gets fired up and guitar music fills the room as both Ugandan and Mzungu voices blend together to prepare for a wedding on April 6th.  All of us are learning new songs and it's a fun challenge.  A few of us went last week to pick out material to make dresses/shirts for the choir and after searching many shops we only found one shop that had enough cloth for 8 people.  I'm not quite sure how it happened - price, too many voices, lack of variety, led a few of us to choose a maroon print for the outfits.  At the next practice, two of the singers decided they didn't like the material... so the next day we went back to the material store.  I was able to convince the Indian shop keeper to exchange the material... so we set about picking new cloth.  After a half hour of searching, the girls decided they liked maroon best and so we stuck with the original material.  I just shook my head - thinking I could have done something better with my Saturday afternoon.

The other night I once again shared dinner with my awesome neighbours, and we dove into some deep conversations.  Their cousin was over and he was asking me all about my faith, church background, and when we got to the point of talking about grace, the conversation got heated.  This young man is not the only one... it was also preached in church on Sunday (and I've heard it from many Ugandan friends as well)... that we can never really be sure if we are going to heaven because if I die without asking for repentance for my latest sin, then I am still unworthy of heaven.  I'm hell bound as a sinner.  Well, in 36 years, I have never believed that... but I don't know how to really describe that.  If you accept Christ as Saviour, then you are promised a home in heaven.  That doesn't mean we should intentionally live in sin.  God wants more from us than that.  But only Christ can get me into heaven.  It's not by what I say or do.  Sin does affect how close I can be to God... but whenever I try to share this, my friends become very adamant about the cost of sin.  Oh, do I struggle and pray.

Then last night, after a relaxing, yet entertaining afternoon at a new swimming pool in town, two young Dutch girls and myself were invited over to some Indian's home for dinner.  We arrived at 8 pm and had great conversations.  As the night wore on, conversations about God / gods / and religious practices became the centre.  One Indian man was getting upset with me because I believed that there was only One True God.  He was trying to tell me that Jesus Christ was Krishna reincarnated and that all of our faiths come from the same tree.  We just have different branches, but we all stem from the same god... Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, Christians... we are all the same.  We are human beings.  I don't disagree that we are all human beings :), but I don't believe that we worship the same God.  Wow, he started telling me that I was not a real believer then... I was trying to create war and Christians are supposed to be about peace - just like Hindus.  He mentioned something about me fighting just as hard as Israel and Palestine, and that I should just give up and realize we are all equal.  Again, I came home with some much to think and pray about.  How can I clearly share with my new friends?  I wish I was better at quoting facts and passages.  But I also know, that I can speak more clearly about my God than a few of the Indians in town who get confused about how many gods they have and how their stories come about.  They say their book is thousands of years old and too big to really grasp.  Again, I am grateful for the Bible, the inspired Word of God, which clearly tells me who God is and who I am in Christ. 

I ask for your prayers.  And maybe you can send some advice my way - if you really know how to define Grace and the absolute trust that I have in knowing I am going to heaven.   

Monday, February 4, 2013

Kaberamaido Interview

     Bululu has been a great village for me - in Kaberamaido district, where I have been able to share, train in Evangelism Explosion and Children's ministry, and also make great friends.  One of the pastors recently requested that I do another training in Kaberamaido town.  And I was happy to begin exploring that idea.
     The Berean church in town requested that I come and preach first, so that they could get a taste for who I am, then they wanted to interview me and find out a lot of information before they decided to host a three day training.  All of that seemed overwhelming and nail-biting, but at the same time, I was glad that a church was doing some research on the foreigner they were inviting to their community.  Too many times they just accept everything that comes their way, and so I was actually glad to go through the process.
     But preaching!  Yikes, I have never done that before.  Without allowing myself to get worked up, I decided to "teach" during the morning service.  I spoke again about dreams and visions and looked at the life of Joseph.  It's a topic I am still working through, so when I felt God nudging me to share that topic again, I was very peaceful.  What was really awesome was the prayer time the church had for me at the end of the service - praying that God would reveal His amazing plans and purposes for my life!
     I had traveled to Kabermaido with my neighbour boy, as well as too young man from Soroti.  Pius, one of the guys, has always been with me to Bululu, so of course we had to make this journey together.  It's good to have a right hand man.  After church we joined a few leaders for a meeting and then lunch.  The leaders were full of questions:
  • Where have you been trained?
  • Who are you with?
  • Why do you want to teach evangelism?
  • Are you good with children?
I answered those questions with ease and the guys also helped me to add testimonies of God's goodness.  But then the Pastor started questioning me about youth ministry.  He wasn't sure I should be leading workshops on youth ministry (Which, by the way, I never offered to him in the first place.) because he doesn't like the way the Western world raises their youth.  He is under the impression that youth are too independent and under trained.  He is appalled that we kick our youth out at the age of 16, and some as young as 13 - and make them fend for themselves.  Who guides them and teaches them to do what is right?  In Uganda youth stay with their parents until marriage, but even then, another home is often built on the family plot, so that families can remain together.  The Pastor was quite shocked when I tried to defend "my" culture - that we rarely get kicked out, and our parents are always there to guide us.  He couldn't believe that I still call my parents occasionally to ask for advice.  It was a very interesting discussion and quite a cultural experience. 
     The meeting ended though with a huge desire to have this Evangelism Training and a day to learn how to do Children's Ministry.  I have a feeling God is going to do awesome things.
"As soon as it was night, the brothers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea.  On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue.  Now the Berean's were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true."  Acts 17:10,11.  It was actually refreshing to be examined by this small "Berean" church and I'm glad that they care about what trainings come through their church community.  My only question is: Why did they let me "preach" before having this little interview?